Ravens’ Ja’Wuan James making good progress in his transition to left tackle
Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James will fight to stay healthy and hopefully earn a backup role to Ronnie Stanley in 2022.
James has played as a right tackle for most of his career, but the Ravens may plan to use him as their top contingency plan for the left side if Stanley gets re-injured.
Baltimore signed James to a two-year deal after he tore his Achilles last June, and the 30-year-old carries a significant amount of injury risk heading into this season. James continued to rehab for all of the 2021 reason and now gets his first chance to prove he can be the experienced and reliable tackle the team needs in 2022.
With veteran Morgan Moses likely taking the right tackle starting job and with rookie Daniel Faalele serving as depth behind Moses, James has been slotted to take snaps at left tackle in camp.
The former Miami tackle had this to say about the difficult transition:
That certainly sounds like a tall order.
The Ravens are counting on Ja’Wuan James as a backup plan at left tackle
Ravens offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris discussed James’ progress so far and gave a less NSFW description of what the transition was like. Both D’Alessandris and head coach John Harbaugh nonetheless seemed optimistic that James could dominate at the position in time.
"“It’s like you write right-handed all the time and all of a sudden start to write left-handed. It’s all development of motor skills and being comfortable doing it one way. He’s in the process of working at it, and he’s athletic enough to do it. His progress has been very good so far. It’s early, first day in pads. We’ll see how this continues to grow.”"
James hasn’t stepped onto the field since December of 2019, so any buoying hopes for his resurgent 2022 performance come with plenty of doubt.
The Ravens can’t afford to lose any quality offensive line depth this season, especially at a critical position like left tackle. James’ chances of making the final roster could hinge on how well he adapts to his new position and how long he can stay healthy, as James has already missed a few practices last week.
The team could still release James and create $3 million in salary cap space, which is an important consideration to keep in mind as Baltimore monitors James’ progress in camp.
If James’ transition to left tackle fails for whatever reason, the Ravens have other contingency plans in place such as potentially moving Patrick Mekari to the position, but they don’t seem ready to give up on James just yet.
Here’s hoping James quickly learns how to wipe his rear with his non-dominant hand this season.