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Mailbag: Why Do the Ravens Have So Many Injuries?

T Ronnie Stanley
T Ronnie Stanley

Mink: I certainly get it. Another year of widespread injuries is frustrating. Every week, the Ravens lose more players. However, I don't think there's any overarching problem.

After what Baltimore has gone through injury-wise in recent years, Head Coach John Harbaugh has spearheaded a deep dive into every aspect of injury prevention and rehabilitation. Trust me when I say the Ravens have invested a lot of time, research, and money in this. In recent years, they changed the head certified athletic trainer and head of their strength & conditioning program.

Looking at most of the injuries, it's clear they weren't preventable. Ronnie Stanley (knee) and Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) got rolled up on. J.K. Dobbins was caught in an awkward position during a tackle. Marcus Williams (pectoral) also seemed to suffer his injury making a tackle. We don't know what happened on all of these, but they seem to just be back luck.

"If you look at each injury this year, they've almost all been guys getting caught in piles," Harbaugh said Monday. "It's all been football contact-related injuries. That's what you're looking at this year. I don't think you can have a theme for that, other than it's football."

You have to think that at some point the Ravens' luck will change. The good news is that most are not major season-ending injuries and I expect some starters to return soon – possibly this week.

Downing: My initial thought is that you could probably say the same for just about every team in the NFL over the last 20 years. Look at Sunday's results around the league. The Dallas Cowboys were viewed as potentially the best team in the league coming into the weekend, and they fell to the winless Arizona Cardinals. Just go back to Week 3 last year, when the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Indianapolis Colts, before ultimately going on to win the Super Bowl four months later. NFL players and coaches often say, "it's hard to win in this league," and while that response can feel like a cliché, it's rooted in truth. Also, the Ravens didn't seem like they were overlooking the Colts Sunday when they got out to an early lead and were in position to make it a two-score game in the first quarter before Kenyan Drake fumbled. 

I also think the Colts are better than most people think. They have a talented defensive front that makes life tough in the trenches. Gardner Minshew is a veteran quarterback who can make plays in big moments. They played hard across the board and didn't quit after the Ravens jumped out to an early lead. Add in the fact that the Ravens were down to a pair of practice squad running backs in the fourth quarter, didn't have two of their best offensive linemen, and had their top three pass rushers sidelined for most of the game, along with a handful of other significant injuries. Yes, this was a game that the Ravens should have won. It was there for the taking and they made too many mistakes across the board to come away with the victory. But it's too simplistic to just chalk up that loss to overlooking the Colts.

Mink: Who knows exactly how much the fumbles were caused by the rain, but it certainly didn't help. Still, that's no excuse. You can't let an opponent punch the ball out when chasing you from behind. You can't have low snaps. You have to protect the ball in the pocket. Jackson has fumbled four times in three games – tied for the most in the league with the quarterback on the other side this weekend, Deshaun Watson.

I'm sure ball security will be an emphasis this week in practice. It's something that coaches constantly are talking about, but when you have a game like Sunday's, it gets your attention more. It's kind of like when your mother tells you to put on sunscreen before going out to the beach. Sure, you say, and then you forget and don't do it. After you get burned, you won't forget next time.

Downing: There are a variety of factors at play here. Mark Andrews missed time with a quad injury at the end of training camp, and he's had to work himself back to full strength over the first few weeks of the season. He also had a heavy workload against the Bengals in his 2023 debut where he was targeted eight times and caught a touchdown pass. He had a smaller role on Sunday, catching four passes for 35 yards, but the Colts worked to limit his opportunities on a rainy day. The other piece at play here is that the Ravens have a new offense under Todd Monken, which relies more heavily on the wide receivers. The Ravens made big investments in the receiving corps this offseason by signing Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, and drafting Zay Flowers, and those players are going to get a heavy share of the targets. That's the challenge of having a more talented group of receivers – there's only one football and you can't feed everyone.

I still think Andrews will have a significant role in this offense and has some big games on the horizon. He's still Jackson's safety net in key situations, and he's getting healthier after the quad injury. Andrews has put up some monster games against the Browns in his career, so maybe this is a week where he puts up some big numbers for this offense.

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