Head Coach John Harbaugh delivered some good and bad news on the Ravens' injury situation Wednesday afternoon.
Harbaugh confirmed reports that running back Danny Woodhead's hamstring injury is serious, and will sideline him for at least four weeks.
"Danny looks like it's going to be a while," Harbaugh said. "It's a little unpredictable, but it's going to be multiple weeks."
Hamstrings are generally tough to predict, but it's the second time that Woodhead has injured his left hamstring since becoming a Raven. He also missed a couple weeks of practice after injuring it in the second preseason game in Miami.
Meanwhile, outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith dodged a bullet. A knee sprain was announced for Smith in Cincinnati, but it "didn't turn out to be that serious." Harbaugh cast doubt on whether Smith can play this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, but said he'll have a chance for next week in London versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That short of a recovery wasn't expected after Smith was writhing in pain on the field in Cincinnati.
"Man, it was a painful one. On the field, I wanted to give him a leather strap and a shot of whiskey," Harbaugh joked.
It looks like Smith will be a big part of the Ravens' pass rush this season. The third-year player was very active in the preseason and notched a third-down sack to end Baltimore's first defensive series when he charged up the middle and tripped Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Just like Smith looks to be a key factor, Woodhead got off to a very hot start in the regular-season opener before his injury. On the Ravens' first offensive drive, Woodhead caught three passes for 33 yards, picking up first downs each time. He also had one 4-yard carry.
The Ravens have to decide whether they want to place Woodhead on injured reserve (IR). Putting him on IR would open up a roster spot for another running back, and Woodhead would still be able to return later this season.
However, Baltimore can only bring two players back from injured reserve under the NFL's rules (they don't have to designate who). With cornerback Maurice Canady (knee) already one target to return, Woodhead would take the second spot. Thus, the Ravens would be in a bind if another big-time player were to get injured and they wanted to put him on IR-to return.
Two logical options to take Woodhead's place on the roster would be practice squad running backs Jeremy Langford or Alex Collins, who Baltimore added soon after the 53-man roster was set.
"We've been trying to get them ready more than anything," Harbaugh said. "Those guys have done a really good job of studying the offense and they're healthy guys. Those are two very good options for us, and we'll see by the end of the week where we're at with running back."
The Ravens have until Saturday to bring one of them up to the active 53-man roster or add somebody else.
"I wouldn't rule out someone from another team, also," Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see how it plays out."