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Harbaugh: Kelechi Osemele Fighting Through Back Problem

Posted Oct 21, 2013

The second-year offensive lineman said that he will require surgery after the season.

After Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, second-year offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele told Sports Illustrated that he will require offseason surgery to repair a disk in his back. 

Osemele’s back has been bothering him throughout the year, and he said the injury has kept him from playing at full strength.

“I’m not 100%, and I won’t be until surgery after the season, until they fix the disk,” he said. “But I manage it, and treat it every day to treat the symptoms. With this issue degrading, it’s going to take time to heal. And it’s not going to heal during the season; this is a full-contact sport. But I can’t make excuses, I’ve just got to continue to get better.” 

Head Coach John Harbaugh did not comment on the specifics of the report during his press conference Monday, but he did praise Osemele for playing through pain. 

“He’s a tough guy; he fights through a lot of different things,” Harbaugh said. “A lot of guys have a lot of things. Probably most players in the league have something along those lines that way. So, he fights through it. 

Osemele missed most of the Week 5 matchup against the Dolphins because his back tightened up during pre-game warmups. He said that part of the issue against Miami was that he slept on a soft mattress the night before in the hotel, and that he needs a firm mattress for his back. 

Despite the issue, Osemele has started every game at left guard this season. 

“He had the same issue last year and he fought through it last year,” Harbaugh said. “So, all the guys have things like that. All those things get addressed in the offseason.” 

The Ravens reportedly considered surgery for Osemele this offseason, according to The Baltimore Sun, but opted against it. 

“We looked at it last year, and it wasn’t addressed that way, so maybe this year it will be,” Harbaugh said. “But I really don’t know, I don’t really have the answer for you.” 

Osemele has played every snap outside of the Miami game. His sophomore campaign has been up-and-down, but the Ravens have been impressed with the way he has played through the injury to stay on the field. 

“K.O. is tough, man,” Harbaugh said. “All those guys are. Anybody that plays in this league, with the physical demands that this game puts on you, you have to respect; especially those guys in the trenches. So he’s no different than most of the guys that way."

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