Villanueva was held out of practice for the second consecutive day on Friday after he exited Sunday’s game early with a knee injury.
The 33-year-old has played in all 100 career NFL games and has made 94 consecutive starts, but he’s in danger of missing his first game this Monday if he’s unable to practice on Saturday.
Villanueva’s absence would further deplete a beaten-up Ravens offensive line that’s already without Ronnie Stanley and Tyre Phillips.
If he misses this week’s game, the team’s offensive tackle depth will be in dire condition.
The Ravens can’t afford to have Alejandro Villanueva miss Sunday’s game
Veteran Andre Smith was called on to replace Villanueva in Sunday’s game as the 34-year-old played in his first NFL game in nearly two years.
Smith was elevated from the practice squad ahead of the game and, although he held his own, expectedly ran into some struggles.
It’s likely that Smith would start opposite Patrick Mekari at left tackle if Villanueva wasn’t able to go. That would leave the Ravens with Mekari (who had played 32 career snaps at tackle going into the year) and a 34-year-old practice squad member as their two starting tackles.
The Ravens also have younger players like undrafted rookie Adrian Ealy, AAF alumn Jaryd Jones-Smith, and former fourth-round pick David Sharpe on their practice squad. One of those three players would likely be elevated if Villanueva is out on Monday.
Either way, this is hardly an ideal scenario for the Ravens.
Offensive tackle depth was already seen as an issue heading into the season, and that was under the assumption that Stanley would be healthy. Not to mention the loss of Phillips who has experience playing tackle as well.
Mekari has exceeded expectations at right tackle and quite literally saved the Ravens offensive line, but they can’t afford to lose yet another starter at the position.
Unfortunately, that might just be the reality of the situation.
The Ravens are certainly hoping that Villanueva can suit up this Monday. But they’re undoubtedly preparing for the worst.