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Ravens Won't Let Early Camp Injuries Stand in Their Way


Nine players.

The Ravens have had nine players that likely would have made this year's 53-man roster go down to serious injury, retirement or suspension, and Baltimore isn't yet a week into training camp.

Here's the timeline:

Jan. 20: Second-team All-Pro inside linebacker Zachary Orr retires because of a newly discovered congenital back/spine condition. He has since unretired, but has yet to be signed anywhere. Orr led the Ravens in tackles last season.

June 1: Cornerback Tavon Young tears his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in organized team activities and is lost for the season. He was projected to be the team's starting nickel cornerback.

June 2: Tight end Dennis Pitta suffers a third major hip injury in practice. The Ravens release last year's team leader in receptions five days later, and his career may be over.

June 30: Tight end Darren Waller is suspended for at least one year for violating the league's substance abuse policy for a second time in two years.

July 25: Running back Kenneth Dixon suffers a bucket-handle meniscus (MCL) tear, which requires a full repair, and is done for the year. The second-year back would have competed to be the team's leading ball carrier after serving a four-game suspension.

July 27: Center/guard John Urschel abruptly retires at age 26. Urschel was competing for the starting center job.

July 28: Cornerback Maurice Canady suffers a MCL tear requiring surgery, but could return later this year. He had stepped in for Young in the slot.

July 28: Tight end Crockett Gillmore tears his MCL, requiring season-ending surgery. After years of dealing with injuries, there was hope that Gillmore could be a key piece of the offense.

Aug. 1: Rookie offensive lineman Nico Siragusa tears his ACL, MCL and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), requiring season-ending surgery. The fourth-round pick was likely going to be an interior offensive line backup.

The timeline doesn't include franchise quarterback Joe Flacco's back pain, though that's still expected to be a short-term injury.

On Tuesday, Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked whether he has sat back and thought, "What's going on here?"

"No," Harbaugh said. "I think we're going to be fine. We have a lot of good players. We're going to play football games. We're the Ravens, and we're going to be a really good team. That's how we do it."

Of course, that won't stop the media from talking about how difficult it will be to overcome and how it's going to impact Baltimore's chance of getting back to the postseason. It's a deluge of injuries that Ravens veteran ESPN reporter Jamison Hensley said he's never seen in his 18 years covering the team.

"At this stage of my career, I try to keep my head down and focus on what's in the building," six-time Pro Bowl guard and team leader Marshal Yanda said. "I try to tell young guys that you can't be getting caught up in the media every day, because obviously, if you read the media, the sky is falling every day, and we aren't going to survive until tomorrow."

"It always seems like your situation is the worst when you're in it," added veteran tight end and fellow team leader Benjamin Watson. "I swear, every training camp I'm like, 'Man, we have a lot of injuries.' And we, in fact, do. That being said, that's why it's a team game. It's incumbent upon other players to step in and play."

For all the injuries, the Ravens have options. The team built great depth this offseason, and will now lean on that to make up for the losses.

Baltimore had second-round pick Kamalei Correa waiting in the wings, and Correa has performed very well throughout the offseason and start of training camp. He should help ease the disappointment of losing Orr.

The Ravens re-signed veteran Lardarius Webb this offseason even though they had two starting safeties, in part, because of Webb's versatility. Now Webb could be called on to go back into his nickel role. The Ravens also added veteran Brandon Boykin, who has a lot of experience in the slot.

Baltimore had an abundance of talent at tight end, and can still lean on Watson, who was signed last year to be the group's leader before suffering an Achilles tear, and physical workhorse Nick Boyle. Maxx Williams (knee) is also making good progress.

The Ravens had a three-way battle for starting center entering camp, but still feel good about the two-way battle between Ryan Jensen and Matt Skura for the starting job.

Baltimore signed veteran running back Danny Woodhead this offseason with the idea that he would be a major pass-catching weapon. With Dixon out, Woodhead could take on more of a rushing role alongside returning starter Terrance West. The team has also liked what it's seen from Buck Allen, a former fill-in starter, and undrafted rookie Taquan Mizzell.

Fifth-round rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor has been strong and can help make up for Siragusa's injury, and the team is trying out other young interior offensive linemen. Skura is another option as a backup inside.

Moves will still likely be made. Harbaugh said he was up late Monday night looking at tape of free agents at a variety of different positions. But Baltimore is adapting to an early streak of injuries with confidence in the guys already wearing purple.

"You don't lament that stuff; you just forge ahead," Harbaugh said. "I'm very confident in our guys and the team we're going to have. I'm not worried about that one bit."

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