News

Injury list: Two more players out

Training camp has barely begun and the Ravens are down two players - one out for the season and another retiring.

I said last month that I was only going to cover season-long injuries on this site because it’s not really a news site. I didn’t expect to be writing another post on the subject so soon. And I certainly didn’t expect to add another two players to the list.

And yet, here we are. First to go down this week was Kenneth Dixon. The running back, who was suspended for the first four games of the season, will now miss the whole year with a knee injury.

He’ll be missed. Though Terrance West is nominally the starter, Dixon’s numbers last year were good, particularly in advanced metrics such as running success. A ‘successful’ run is defined in different ways by different sites but, essentially, a run is a success if it gains a proportion of the required yards – for example, 40 per cent of required yards on first down, 60 per cent of the required yards on second down and 100 per cent on third or fourth. Dixon looked more impressive than any of the Ravens’ other RBs on the success metric.

Today started with news that Joe Flacco has injured his back – but don’t worry, he’s not done for the year. At least, hopefully not. The latest is that he will be taking it easy for a week and that will be the end of it. Right now, the worst case seems to be an absence of six weeks, which would not be good for the Ravens at all. However, we aren’t there yet.

Worse came later in the day when offensive lineman John Urschel announced his retirement. Urschel is a smart guy. He’s studying for his PhD in maths at MIT and he’s spoken in the past about his fears of developing CTE. The decision might not be surprising but the timing is. It’s not clear why he waited until the beginning of camp to announce his retirement but he has and the Ravens are another man down.

Urschel’s loss, to be blunt, is not as significant as losing Tavon Young for the year. He was an emerging player at best, one who was expected to develop into a solid starter, rather than a perennial Pro Bowler. However, he was an important piece in an offensive line that was already looking patched up. One of the Ravens’ sticking plasters has fallen off.

Urschel was earmarked as the centre for this season. The other choices – Ryan Jensen and Matt Skura – are uninspiring. Jensen is said to be improving but has frequently looked more like a turnstile than an O-lineman and Skura was picked up a year ago as an undrafted rookie and spent last season on the practice squad.

Right now, the offensive line looks like it needs work.

Photo: Penn State

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