Despite five preseason games and the longest training camp in the NFL, the Ravens begin the season extremely healthy.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith is the biggest name who will miss Sunday’s opener, as the veteran cornerback begins a four-game suspension for violating the league’s conduct policy.
Here’s a rundown of the Ravens’ brief injury report following Friday’s practice:
ILB Kenny Young, CB Maurice Canady Both Questionable
Young was a full participate in practice both Thursday and Friday, which raised expectations that he will play Sunday after suffering a knee injury in the preseason finale.
“It just feels good to be back out there competing,” Young said after Friday’s practice. “That’s what I live for. That’s what I came here to do. This is the beginning of our journey.”
Young battled Patrick Onwuasor throughout the preseason for the starting job at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. Onwuasor is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but it would not be surprising to see him share time Sunday with Young. Onwuasor and Young bring different skillsets to the position and the combination makes the defense stronger.
Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated he also thought Canady would be in uniform. Canady has been dealing with a thigh injury suffered Aug. 17 in joint practices with the Colts.
“Maurice is a very valuable player,” Harbaugh said Friday. “He looks good in practice, looks like he’ll be out there. He can play inside, outside, he can play special teams, good player. Good to have him back.”
If Canady plays, the Ravens will feel even better about their cornerback depth. Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, and Tavon Young are proven players, and rookies Anthony Averett and Darious Williams played aggressively during the preseason.
Another cornerback, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, landed on injured reserve and he likely lost a roster spot after breaking his arm in the preseason finale. But the Ravens believe they are better equipped to handle Smith’s absence than in previous seasons. The Buffalo Bills in Week 1 will be the first test.
TE Hayden Hurst, DT Willie Henry Officially Ruled Out
Losing rookie tight end Hayden Hurst for at least a couple more weeks due to a stress fracture in his foot puts the spotlight on the Ravens’ other tight ends – Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, and Maxx Williams.
The Ravens attacked the tight end position in the draft, taking Andrews (third round) after they had already selected Hurst (first round). That decision could pay immediate dividends. Joe Flacco had built a nice rapport with Hurst, but Andrews steadily improved this summer and had his best performance (three catches, 61 yards) in the preseason finale against the Washington Redskins.
“Mark has really come along the last few weeks,” safety Eric Weddle said Wednesday.
Flacco loves throwing to tight ends, and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg uses two tight end formations in certain situations. Andrews, Boyle, and Williams will be counted on to step up until Andrews returns.
Will Two or Three Quarterbacks Dress Sunday?
That decision will have nothing to do with injury, as the coaches decide whether Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III, or both quarterbacks will be active behind Flacco.
On Friday, Harbaugh said he had already decided. But the Bills will have to wait.
“That decision has been made at this point,” Harbaugh said. “It’s part of the game-planning process. When you look at the team you’re playing on Monday, Tuesday – you put a game plan together, see what you’re going to need, and figure out who’s going to be active. Of course, that depends on who’s healthy sometimes. Special teams needs factor in, the other side of the ball factors in. As the head coach, that’s your job to try to balance those things out, listen to what everybody needs, and make a decision as early as you can so people can prepare accordingly.”
Griffin understands that teams rarely dress three quarterbacks, and is prepared to help the other two quarterbacks if he does not dress.
"Now my job is to be there for the team anyway I can," Griffin said. "Very rarely do you see three quarterbacks active. I will be understanding of that. throughout the season. But I'm working as if I'll be starting. I'll be ready on game day."