The Ravens have suffered a significant blow to their offensive line.
Second-year left guard Kelechi Osemele is likely done for the season because of a back injury that has plagued him throughout the year, Head Coach John Harbaugh announced Friday.
"I think the chances of him playing the rest of this year are probably pretty slim," Harbaugh said. "There's a good chance he's going to get surgery here real soon. I don't want to say for sure 100 percent because I don't know if I'm authorized to say that, but I would anticipate that right now."
Osemele had previously said that he would wait until the offseason to have surgery to repair a disk in his back, and that he expected to play through the injury that he admitted was hindering his performance.
But this week the Ravens discovered "some changes" in his back that need to be treated with more immediacy.
"The back was just getting a little worse and a little worse as we went, and we went back in and looked at it and there are some things that need to get taken care of," Harbaugh said.
Osemele has started all seven games at left guard. He has played every snap this season, with the exception of the Week 5 game against Miami where the back injury forced him to the sidelines after the opening series.
The Ravens are expected to turn to veteran interior lineman A.Q. Shipley. Jah Reid and Rick Wagner will also be in competition for playing time, Harbaugh said.
"We'll actually be better there with a healthier player," Harbaugh said. "You want your guys at 100 percent, so A.Q. has played well, he's played very well when he's been in there. He's a football player. He's always played well whenever he's played."
Shipley, whom the Ravens acquired from the Colts in an offseason trade, is slated to start this week. He is a natural center, but he took over for Osemele in the game against Miami and told reporters Friday that he has been taking first-team practice reps at left guard this week.
"I feel very comfortable," Shipley said. "Since the Miami game I've been practicing strictly pretty much guard. Center is my natural position, I feel comfortable at that, so I've been pushing guard. I feel pretty good."
Harbaugh and the offensive linemen expressed confidence in Shipley taking over the job.
"I think he should do a good job for us," All-Pro right guard Marshal Yanda said. "He's definitely proven that we can win with him and that he can play. I think he'll do a good job. We'll just communicate a little bit more, make sure he's on the right page with everything and we'll just roll."
Osemele is the third starter on the offensive line from last year's Super Bowl team that the Ravens are now without. Center Matt Birk retired after last season and the Ravens replaced veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie with Eugene Monroe.
Osemele's sophomore campaign had been a struggle as he played through the pain, and he had not been as effective as in last year's playoffs when he dominated at left guard.
"He's been hurting the entire season," right tackle Michael Oher said. "He's been toughing through it. But A.Q. is a great player too. He's quick, he's strong. I think he'll do a great job while he's in there. It's always tough when a guy who is starting and who's a good player goes down, but I'm pretty sure A.Q. will do a great job in there."