Mounting Injuries Taking Heavy Toll On Ravens


By the overtime session of Sunday's loss to the Browns, the Ravens were playing without their top receiver, running back, tight end, outside linebacker and defensive end. They also lost three cornerbacks and yet another receiver in the game.

And that list doesn't even include losing Terrell Suggs to a torn Achilles in Week 1, and playing without tight end Dennis Pitta (PUP), receiver Michael Campanaro (injured reserve) and first-round pick receiver Breshad Perriman.

Injuries on both sides of the ball have hindered the Ravens all season, and the impact of their absences was on full display in the 33-30 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium.

"It's not helpful," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "The goal is not to be decimated with injuries during the course of a game. That's not what we're trying to accomplish, obviously, but you have to just deal with it. It is what it is."

The Ravens didn't provide any updates on the status of their injured players after the game.

Starting outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil missed the second half with a groin injury and running back Justin Forsett hurt his ankle on the offense's final possession of regulation. Forsett went down after a 32-yard completion to put the Ravens in a first-and-goal situation, and he then had to watch as the Ravens settled for a field goal to force overtime.

"It's tough," Forsett said. "You want to be out there and help your team win, and you can't do anything on the sideline."

Forsett told reporters he still needed to have the doctors evaluate the ankle to determine the extent of the injury. He remained on the sideline after the injury, but didn't go back in the game.

"I feel like if I went back out there I possibly could have damaged it a little more," he said.

Injuries in the secondary also took a heavy toll.

Cornerback Will Davis, who was a difference maker as the No. 3 cornerback last week in Pittsburgh, was the first to go down with a knee injury. Then starter Lardarius Webb tweaked his thigh and their replacement Kyle Arrington eventually left the game in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens had second-year safety Terrence Brooks play nickel cornerback for most of the second half. Rookie fourth-round pick Tray Walker then took over at cornerback after Arrington's injury.

"Really, I didn't practice that all week, but it's next man up," Brooks said. "And if it's your chance to go in, you have to go in and perform."

The patchwork secondary had trouble stopping anything the Browns threw at them. Quarterback Josh McCown threw for 457 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions. He also completed a critical two-point conversion pass.

"It's huge when your players go down, but it's no excuse," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "The next man has to stand up. We practice this all the time, so it's no excuse."

"If you come in the game, you're a starter," safety Kendrick Lewis said. "Everyone is here for a reason. The next man in has to step up. You can't miss a step, can't miss a beat. And that's where we have to get better."

Part of the issue defensively is that McCown had time to throw to find soft spots in the coverage. With Dumervil injured, the Ravens had to operate without their top pass rusher. They gave Jason Babin, Courtney Upshaw and Za'Darius Smith opportunities, but none was able to get to McCown.

"It's never too many [injuries to get the job done]," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "That just means the next guy behind Dumervil has to really step up. At the end of the day, it doesn't mean the game stops when one guy goes down. At the end of the day, I have to pick up the slack and everybody on the front has to pick up the slack when Dumervil is gone."

On the offensive side, the Ravens came into the weekend short-handed.

Steve Smith Sr., clearly the team's biggest playmaker, was inactive because of microfractures in his back. That made Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown the team's starting receivers. Rookie Darren Waller was the No. 3 wideout, but he suffered a concussion in the first half.

Tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf) and backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) were also inactive, leaving the Ravens with rookies to replace them.

It's unclear when the Ravens will get Smith and Gillmore back in the lineup.

"It's the NFL, so it happens," Brown said. "You try to deal with it every year, and you try to find guys to step up and make plays."

The significance of all the injuries was clear Sunday afternoon, but nobody pointed to them as an excuse. The mention of the "next-man up" philosophy was commonplace around the locker room, and Harbaugh dismissed the idea that the injuries will wear him down as the season continues.

"I don't get worn down," Harbaugh said. "That will not happen. I will not get worn down, especially by injuries."

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