Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 4, 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM NOV. 4, 2023 51 IRISH IN THE PROS BY TODD D. BURLAGE I t's been a long time coming, but if recent results are any indication of future performance, then the long re- covery process for former Irish offen- sive tackle Ronnie Stanley is finally over. A first-round draft pick (sixth overall) of the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, a se- vere ankle injury kept Stanley out of 33 games with the franchise from 2020-22. The former Irish All-American, who played at Notre Dame from 2012-15, un- derwent multiple surgeries, rehabbed rigorously, and is finally returning to the form that made Stanley a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection in 2019 and one of the best left tackles in the NFL. "I'm very excited to be able to come into this season healthy," Stanley said during training camp. "I definitely don't take it for granted knowing the past couple of years how hard it is just to get back in the game. To be able to start a whole new season feeling good, I'm very thankful." Unfortunately for Stanley, the good preseason vibes didn't last very long when he suffered a knee injury in Week 1 that sidelined him for three games. Stanley returned in Week 5 this sea- son and has steadily improved, routinely drawing impressive pass-blocking (71.4) and run-blocking (70.5) grades from leading analytics outfit Pro Foot- ball Focus. A healthy ankle has allowed Stanley to adjust his workout focus and become a better and stronger player. "A majority of my time the past cou- ple of years has been spent on rehab," explained Stanley, estimating that 80 percent of his workout time was spent on his ankle and only 20 percent on tra- ditional training. "Being able to really put most of my focus on training, and building, and getting stronger, getting more endurance, and just becoming an overall better athlete has made a big dif- ference for me." With star quarterback Lamar Jackson running the Ravens offense, Stanley's ability to protect him might be the sec- ond-most important job on the field. And Stanley is happy to be back, healthy and charged with that respon- sibility. "This is as good as I've felt since 2019," Stanley said. Through games of Oct. 22, Stan- ley's Ravens were 5-2 and atop the AFC North division standings. ✦ Ronnie Stanley Is Finally Returning To All-Pro Form Stanley, who missed 33 games from 2020-22 due to a severe ankle injury, said he feels as good as he has felt health-wise since 2019. PHOTO COURTESY BALTIMORE RAVENS FIGHTING IRISH HEADLINERS Kyle Hamilton (Played at Notre Dame from 2019-21), S, Baltimore Ravens (NFL) In a 38-6 win over the Lions on Oct. 22, the former Irish All-American continued his second-year ascent with 7 tackles, 1 for loss, while allowing 2 catches on 4 targets for 35 yards in pass coverage Through seven games this season, the Greece native and former first-round draft pick ranked fourth on the Ravens with 32 tackles, including 3 sacks and 1 fumble recovery. Julian Love (2015-18), DB, Seattle Seahawks (NFL) In a 20-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 22, the former Irish All-America defensive back recorded 6 tackles and allowed only 2 receptions for 12 yards in pass coverage. The Westchester, Ill., native has found a nice home in Seattle after moving there from the New York Giants in March. Through six games, the fourth-round draft pick ranked third on the team with 47 tackles, including 35 solo stops. Harrison Smith (2007-11), S, Minnesota Vikings, (NFL) In a 22-17 upset win over the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 23, the Augusta, Ga., native recorded 6 tackles, 3 solo, with 1 pass defended. This performance came three weeks after the former first-round draft pick and six-time Pro Bowl selection piled up 14 total tackles, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble in a 21-13 win over the Carolina Panthers. For the season, the 12-year NFL veteran ranked third on the Vikings with 49 tackles, including 3 sacks, and he led the team with 3 forced fumbles.

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