Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti has taken notice of all the injuries around the NFL this year, and he has some ideas on how to improve the product on the field when they happen.
The first idea is fixing an out-of-date rule and the second is a new, creative solution.
First of all, Bisciotti wants to expand roster sizes, both before and on gameday. Currently, rosters are limited to 53 players at the start of the regular season, and must be trimmed to 46 on gameday. That's seven players that, even if healthy, are not permitted to play.
"To me, that's ridiculous," Bisciotti told 105.7 The Fan's Mike Popovec and Russell Street Report's Tony Lombardi while on the "The Original Greene Turtle's Ravens Rap Show."
"That's such an archaic rule that there were bad teams that thought that if the good teams had more players that they could even be better than the bad teams. Which, again, makes no sense to me."
Bisciotti thinks rosters should be expanded. Simply put, it allows more players to be under the tutelage of NFL coaches.
"If we had a roster of 60 and a gameday of 55, I think these guys would flourish more," Bisciotti said.
"I think they would play better, I think they would understand schemes better and I think the product on the field would be better. So I'm a big proponent of expanding the rosters, and that's got to be initiated through the collective bargaining agreement."
Another proposal Bisciotti would like to make, which could be addressed at March league meetings, is a change to the practice squad rules. Currently, there are 10 players allowed on the squad, an increase from eight that took place in 2014.
While that was a positive change, Bisciotti wants to take it one step further and allow teams to designate five practice squad players that cannot be signed by other teams. Currently, NFL teams can pluck any NFL practice squad player from an opponent if they add him to their 53-man roster.
"Why should we expose our practice squad to other teams?" Bisciotti said. "We draft a fifth-round pick in April because of his potential, and we know that if we work with him, he can become a Ryan Jensen. But you can't protect him because he's not ready in August so you put him on the practice squad."
The example Bisciotti used is guard Robert Myers, who the Ravens drafted in the fifth round in 2015. A 6-foot-5, 326-pound Tennessee State product, Myers had plenty of ability but needed a lot of polish. He wasn't ready to contribute once the season came around and the Ravens tried to hold onto him as a developmental player on their practice squad.
However, he was signed off the Ravens practice squad by the Denver Broncos in late September. Although he spent the year on their 53-man roster, he didn't play a single snap all season and was inactive in their Super Bowl victory.
He was then waived by the Broncos the following summer, signed to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad, where he spent one year, then waived again. He's now out of the league.
Had the Ravens been able to protect him, they would have had time to work with Myers day in and day out instead of him bouncing between three teams and eventually out of the league.
And, as Bisciotti pointed out, it would give teams another backup that they've actually invested in and worked with in-house in case injuries strike. Instead, after the Ravens lost Myers, when they had offensive line injuries they had to bring in players they had no previous familiarity with.
"That would make him a much better player if we can limit how other teams can steal those players," Bisciotti said.
Bisciotti Shares a Turning Point for Marlon Humphrey
While Bisciotti says the season is much more difficult for him, emotionally, because he has to sit back and watch like everyone else, he's a big draft guy.
Bisciotti noticed some of the criticism of the Ravens' decision to pick cornerback Marlon Humphrey at No. 16-overall in this year's draft. On Wednesday, as Humphrey has shined in Baltimore's secondary, Bisciotti expressed his pleasure with the first-round rookie.
"Half the people say we're idiots because we should have taken somebody else," Bisciotti said. "Marlon Humphrey is a pro's pro."
Bisciotti said he met with Humphrey and his parents in Head Coach John Harbaugh's office the day after the Ravens picked him. His father is a former NFL running back and his mother was an Olympic-quality track and field athlete. The owner pressed the rookie to respond to the criticism Bisciotti was hearing.
"I said to him, 'Tell me about this weakness that everybody is saying that you have, that you get beat deep. I watched some tape and I saw that that's your weakness. That's your critics,'" Bisciotti said. "And Humphrey said, 'I'll prove them wrong.'
When Bisciotti watched Humphrey practice in May and June, he saw him giving up too many completions and asked why he wasn't pressing, since that was one of his greatest strengths. Bisciotti was told it was because Humphrey didn't want to get beat deep.
"So I talked with John and John sat down with him and he said, 'We've got two great safeties, you're not going to get beat over the top. If you need help over the top, then we'll give it to you. It's not your job,'" Bisciotti said.
"'But if you don't beat the [crap] out of that guy at the line of scrimmage, if you never let him get off the line of scrimmage, he can't beat you deep. And then Marlon said, 'I got ya. I got it.'"
According to Pro Football Focus, Humphrey has been targeted 16 times and given up just eight receptions (50 percent) for 92 yards. He hasn't allowed a touchdown and opponents have just a 67.7 quarterback rating when throwing his direction.
"Now he is what we want," Bisciotti said.