Do Ravens Have More Injuries Than Other NFL Teams?
Whenever people ask why the Ravens, a perennial playoff contender, are off to a franchise-worst start, one of the first factors mentioned is injuries.
The injury bug started claiming its victims back in training camp, when first-round pick Breshad Perriman went down with a knee injury, from which he still hasn't returned. Then Matt Elam was lost for the year and Brent Urban landed on the injured reserve-designated to return list. Defensive leader Terrell Suggs blew out his Achilles tendon in Week 1, taking him out of football until next season. The biggest offensive playmaker, Steve Smith Sr., missed a game with microfractures in his back.
"It's hard not to cringe when writing about this truly painful season for the Ravens," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Injuries are one of the biggest reasons for why the Ravens have a 1-5 record."
In Baltimore, it feels like other NFL teams aren't suffering as much.
But guess what? They are. And in many cases, they have it even worse than the Ravens and are still winning.
Baltimore ranks as the 14th-most banged up NFL team right now. That means the Ravens' ailments are about average.
How do you quantify that?
Well, all 32 ESPN beat writers compiled lists of "players out for the season," "players injured" and "total starts missed." The final rankings were determined by each team's total starts missed by a regular starter or integral special teams contributor.
Here are the Ravens' injuries from the season, compiled by Hensley:
Players out for season: LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles), WR Michael Campanaro*(back), S Matt Elam (biceps), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), CB Will Davis (knee) *Players injured:WR Breshad Perriman, DE Chris Canty (calf), T Eugene Monroe (concussion), TE Crockett Gillmore (calf), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), WR Steve Smith Sr. (back), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh), DB Terrence Brooks* (thumb), S Kendrick Lewis (knee) *Total starts missed: 33 -- Suggs (15), Perriman (6), Canty (4), Monroe (3), Gillmore (2), Jernigan (1), Smith (1), Webb (1)
Two players not accounted for are tight end Dennis Pitta (PUP) and Urban (IR-DTR), but the assumption is that players on those lists from the other 31 teams also were not counted.
The 13 teams that are more banged up than the Ravens are the Green Bay Packers (78 total missed starts), Washington Redskins (76), Pittsburgh Steelers (65), Chicago Bears (61), New England Patriots (56), Jacksonville Jaguars (54), Carolina Panthers (48), Dallas Cowboys (44), Philadelphia Eagles (40), Denver Broncos (39), Oakland Raiders (39), New York Giants (37) and Detroit Lions (36).
Obviously, missing certain starters will have a greater impact than others. For example, the Cowboys and Steelers have both been without their starting quarterbacks for multiple games, which is a bigger deal than losing an integral special teams contributor.
But the Steelers have found a way to overcome it and still sit in second place in the AFC North at 4-2. And perhaps the most impressive are the Packers, who top the injury list yet still own a perfect 6-0 record. The Bengals, who also sit at 6-0 and atop the AFC North, have the third-fewest injuries.
Ray Lewis: Ravens Have To Start All Over
It's time for the Ravens to start from scratch. At least, that's what their former leader*Ray Lewis *said.
Lewis will be analyzing his former team on national television this week as a Monday Night Football pre- and post-game analyst.
In the future Hall of Famer's eyes, Baltimore doesn't have the foundational pieces that can be used as building blocks for the rest of the team.
"They have to start all over," Lewis said on ESPN Wednesday, per Hensley. "You see franchises go through things like this. But they don't have their cornerstone yet. For years, they were graced with that. It's what we created in Baltimore, what [General Manager] Ozzie Newsome did in 1996 [when the Ravens drafted Lewis and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden]. Now they have to create that."
Is it OK to disagree with an icon?
It's impossible to recreate the passion and leadership of Lewis – on any team – but the Ravens would argue that they indeed do have cornerstone pieces despite losing him, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and even Suggs for this season.
Baltimore views players like quarterback Joe Flacco and guard Marshal Yanda as cornerstones on offense, and cornerback Jimmy Smith, defensive tackle Brandon Williams and linebacker C.J. Mosley as the foundation on defense.
But this season, despite those having those cornerstones, the Ravens have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball.
"When you see the game, it's the offense the one week and the defense the next week," Lewis said. "You look for that one person that you say, 'Who is that one person that they go to?'"
Do you think Steve Smith Sr. could be that person, Ray?
"Steve comes from another place, so it's a little bit different because he's a leader of his own," Lewis said. "He plays the game the right way. But it's going to have to be somebody that's going to be looked toward the future. What does that future look like?"
Brooks Has Surgery On Thumb
The Ravens are thin at safety with Kendrick Lewis injuring his knee last week against the 49ers, and backup Terrence Brooks couldn't step in because of a thumb injury.
On Thursday, Brooks told The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec that he had a surgical procedure to repair damage in his left thumb after injuring it in the Cleveland Browns matchup. Per Zrebiec, Brooks had his hand in a cast and heavily wrapped as he watched practice.
"It was a little worse than I thought," Brooks said. "[Doctors] went in and did a few things to it. … It's something that's taken care of right now. I'm just really on the recovery process now, trying to not really think about what happened back at the last game. For the most part, we're recovering really well, and I should be back soon."
Brooks didn't say how soon that would be, declining to give an exact return date. He simply said the injury "isn't a big deal," especially when comparing it to the knee surgery he underwent last season.
Yanda Hopes Ravens Can Keep Osemele, But …
Everyone wants to know whether the Ravens can keep left guard Kelechi Osemele after recently signing right guard Marshal Yanda to a four-year extension reportedly worth $37.4 million.
But what does Yanda think about the situation?
Obviously he'd like to see Osemele back next season, but he also wants his teammate to get the biggest payday possible, too.
"Gosh, he's a great player," Yanda told media Thursday, per CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown. "I hope we can keep him. He's working his tail off. That's the business side of it, to where they have to work that out. But I want the best for him and his family, and you want the best for the Ravens, too. I hope they can make that work for both parties."
The Picks Are In: Ravens vs. Cardinals
That's how many experts of the 58 below think the Ravens can actually pull off a win against the Arizona Cardinals, who own the No. 2 scoring offense in the league.
The one guy? NFL Media's Conor Orr. If he gets this right, he'll be considered a game-picks genius.
The Baltimore Sun: 7 of 7 panelists pick Cardinals
"The law of averages will eventually find a way to work in the Ravens' favor, but not on this night. Carson Palmer is going to pick apart the depleted Ravens secondary and the Arizona defense will bend but not break in the red zone." -- Peter Schmuck
ESPN: 13 of 13 panelists pick Cardinals
"I'm going with the Arizona Cardinals. Carson Palmer's still playing great football. [He] had some red-zone issues last week. The two games where they struggled, the two games that they've dropped, they've had red-zone issues scoring touchdowns, but that defense will keep them in them game." -- Mark Schlereth
CBS Sports: 8 of 8 panelists pick Cardinals
"When the schedule came out, this looked like it might be a big game. It isn't for the Ravens. At 1-5, they're done. The Cardinals had a bad loss last week at Pittsburgh, but will bounce back here with a strong offensive showing against a bad defense. Carson Palmer has a big game." -- Pete Prisco
Fox Sports: 7 of 7 panelists pick Cardinals
"The Ravens originally planned to stay out in the West Coast in between the San Francisco and Arizona road affairs, but after losing on one of these extended road trips between Denver and Oakland in September, they scrapped it. It's been forever since the Ravens (1-5) were irrelevant. I don't see how they turn it around. We're almost in November." -- Peter Schrager
NFL.com: 5 of 6 panelists pick Cardinals
"Arizona wins. OK, we'll see you next week! ... Actually, this matchup will be closer than people expect. Every time you anticipate the Ravens losing 30-13, Joe Flacco goes on the kind of in-game run that reshapes the mixed bag of opinions on him." -- Elliot Harrison
ProFootballTalk.com: 2 of 2 panelists pick Cardinals
"Joe Flacco isn't elite. The rest of the team definitely isn't. With the sixth loss looming, it's time to start planning for 2016." -- Mike Florio
Bleacher Report: 8 of 8 panelists pick Cardinals
"Flacco may be one of the best postseason quarterbacks of the past 20 years, but with little to no supporting cast around him outside the ageless Steve Smith, the Ravens aren't getting anywhere near the playoffs in 2015. And the writers here at Bleacher Report don't see him or the Ravens having much of a shot against the Cardinals." -- Gary Davenport
SB Nation: 7 of 7 panelists pick Cardinals
- "The Ravens have been sleepwalking on their opening drives this season, ranking as the slowest-starting offense in the league," wrote Hensley. "Baltimore has more punts (five) than first downs (three) on its first drives of games, and the Ravens are one of two teams (the Houston Texans are the other) not to score a point the first time they touch the ball." [ESPN]
- "It's clear the venerable Chris] Canty, who has more NFL experience than the rest of the Ravens defensive line combined, has the respect and admiration of his teammates after returning from a four-week absence with a calf strain,” wrote Jon Meoli. “What’s less clear, however, is [Canty’s role when he returns after the emergence of Lawrence Guy as a starting-caliber defensive end in his absence." [The Baltimore Sun]