Ravens: Nick Boyle returns to practice, 2021 debut imminent

Ravens, Nick Boyle Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens, Nick Boyle Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Ravens have returned the likes of Rashod Bateman and Tyre Phillips within the past week. And on Wednesday, tight end Nick Boyle took an important step toward making his return.

Boyle was designated to return from the injured reserve opening up a 21-day window for him to officially be activated to the active roster. If he’s not activated before that time, he will be placed on season-ending injured reserve.

It’s unclear when Boyle will be able to return to action, but his return to practice is certainly a major step in the right direction.

Boyle has been sidelined since November of last year after suffering a devastating knee injury that ended his season prematurely. He missed all of training camp and the preseason but did return briefly for a few practices in early September.

However, the Ravens made the decision to place him in the short-term IR prior to the start of Week 1 after it was clear that he still needed some time to rehab.

Now, Boyle is on the verge of making his 2021 debut.

Nick Boyle will provide a major boost to the Ravens offense

A fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Boyle has developed into one of the more important parts of the Ravens offense over the years.

He’s started 48 games over the last four years serving as arguably the best blocking tight end in the NFL. And that’s what makes him so valuable.

The Ravens’ running game has been inconsistent to start the season, and while some of that certainly falls on the absence of J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill, you could also point to Boyle’s absence as well.

With Boyle out, fullback Patrick Ricard has been used frequently as an in-line blocker, more so than at any point in his career.

To his credit, Ricard has continued to play at a very high level, but it’s worth wondering just how good this Ravens running game could be with both players healthy.

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Soon enough, the Ravens should be able to find out firsthand.