The Ravens got bad news Monday as safety DeShon Elliott suffered what appears to be a season-ending knee injury in the Week 6 win over the Bengals.
"It looks like he's going to be out for the year, unfortunately," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "Just way worse than we originally thought it was going to be and the doctors thought after the game. That's preliminary, but it sounded like they were pretty confident.
"So we'll have to find a replacement there and move forward."
The Ravens have now lost two safeties – Elliott and Tony Jefferson – in as many weeks. Chuck Clark was the primary replacement for Jefferson against Cincinnati, playing all 59 snaps and wearing the green dot communication helmet.
However, Elliott played a career-high 27 snaps and made one tackle. He also had a nice play on a deep ball for Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd, dislodging the ball with a big hit.
It's a tough blow for Elliott considering it's the second straight season that will end early because of injury. The talented Texas product broke his arm in the Ravens' fourth preseason game last year as a rookie.
Sunday's game against the Bengals was Elliott's first extended defensive opportunity (he had 15 snaps over three previous games). One of the team's most impressive players and biggest defensive playmakers in summer practices, Elliott was eager to show what he could do in regular-season action.
If Elliott is moved to injured reserve, the Ravens will have had six defensive backs on the list: Elliott, Jefferson, Tavon Young, Brynden Trawick, rookie Iman Marshall and Fish Smithson. Cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee) has also missed five straight games.
Earl Thomas III and Clark are the Ravens' only true safeties left, though Anthony Levine Sr., Justin Bethel and Maurice Canady can play there if needed. Canady, however, is also dealing with a hamstring injury that Harbaugh said is day-to-day, plus he's a starting cornerback.
Baltimore did add defensive back A.J. Howard to the practice squad last week, thought Harbaugh indicated that they could go outside the organization for help.
Ravens Won't Apologize for Lamar Jackson Running
Lamar Jackson's 19 carries against the Bengals were the most he's had this season and third-most of his young career. Last year, he had 26 in his first career start (also versus Cincinnati) and 20 in the division-clinching win over the Browns.
Thus, folks worried about Jackson getting hurt obviously had some concerns about watching No. 8 run so much.
Jackson rushed for a career-high 152 yards and became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 250 and run for 150. It was a dual-threat performance for the ages.
"It was a big factor in winning the game, right? And that's what we're here for," Harbaugh said. "So we're certainly not going to apologize for that. Going forward, we'll try to manage that as best we can."
Harbaugh said quarterback runs are "part of the game right now" and just how the Ravens and Jackson play. Baltimore will have to get accustomed to it. Yet, Harbaugh did say Baltimore doesn't plan to have Jackson run that much each week, as it was just part of the game-plan versus the Bengals.
Though Jackson has done a good job overall in protecting himself and getting out of bounds as much as possible, he did take a couple bigger hits this week from the Bengals defenders.
"I'm impressed with his toughness, there's no question about that. The goal was not for him to take certain hits. There were probably two in there that we would rather see him not get hit on," Harbaugh said.
"I think we also have to acknowledge that those are going to happen over the course of the year – hopefully less rather than more. I wouldn't expect him to be running that many times very many times this year."
Schedule Ahead Will Be Less Forgiving
The Ravens are two games up in the AFC North, sitting in a good spot in the division. However, there's no doubt that the schedule gets tougher from here on out.
The Ravens' four victories have come against teams with a combined four wins. Up next is the Seattle Seahawks (5-1), followed by the bye, and then the undefeated New England Patriots (6-0).
The strength of the 2019 Ravens is about to be tested. Harbaugh said that being honest, he of course notices that, but that all attention needs to be on the Seahawks alone.
"The next game is critical," "Harbaugh said. "It won't make or break us, but it will go a long way in setting us up for where we're headed down the road and the kind of season we're going to have."
The Ravens should have pulled away from the Bengals, but the game wasn't decided until a final onside kick because of self-inflicted wounds. Mistakes like those could prove more costly moving forward.
"My fumble, penalties, little stuff like that is going to happen," tight end Mark Andrews said. "But we have to keep it to a minimum and be more efficient. We're going to face some good teams coming up, and we can't do these things."
"We're still young and finding ourselves for sure on offense and defense," guard Marshal Yanda added. "But, if we can win while we're still doing that, that's great. No one wants to lose the hard way. We'd rather fix things up that need to be fixed while we're winning."
No Ban on Hurdling After Fumble
Andrews' fumble on a hurdle attempt in Sunday's game won't lead to a ban on the move that has become oh-so popular with the team's tight ends.
Andrews coughed the ball up when trying to leap over safety Brandon Wilson. Andrews got up there, but in the process, his own knee punched the football out of his left arm.
The Bengals recovered and turned it into three points the other way.
"Hurdling, per se, is not the issue. The issue is ball security," Harbaugh said. "You pick your spots and pick them well – that wasn't obviously a great spot at all. … The football is the issue. The game is the football – possession of the football, maintaining it, doing smart things with it."
Andrews said after the game that he's not going to stop his hurdles, which have, in large part, had a positive result.
"I'm not going to stop being me, being an aggressive player," Andrews said. "It wasn't anything they did. I hit the ball out with my own knee, and I gotta be better than that. I can't do that to my team. That's not acceptable."
Check out the top images from the Ravens' 23-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.