Five reactions to Steve Smith’s injury, Michael Campanaro’s injury, and Ravens trading for Chris Givens:
1. Injuries at wide receiver are threatening to ruin the Ravens’ season.
Smith has been the Ravens’ best receiver by far. Even if Smith manages to play through the pain of four broken bones in his back, can you expect him to be 100 percent? The Ravens also lost a valuable playmaker in Campanaro, who scored on a nine-yard reverse Thursday night, and who was starting to look he would contribute regularly. Givens has never blossomed into the receiver the Rams thought he would. Now he’s joining a new offense, which will take time to adjust. And we still don’t know when rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman will return from his knee injury. Last season, multiple injuries at cornerback doomed the Ravens. This year, wide receiver could be the position that dooms them.
2. We’ll find out plenty about receivers Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, and Darren Waller.
The Ravens need these guys more than ever. If they make plays, they’ll get plenty of opportunities. If they don’t, the offense will suffer.
3. Joe Flacco needs to play lights out for the Ravens to have any playoff chance.
Top quarterbacks make wide receivers look better. Flacco’s playmakers are dropping like flies, but his job is to make the most of what he has. More than ever, the Ravens will only go as far as Flacco leads them.
4. Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman must adjust.
The passing game may have to rely less on Smith and wide receivers, and more on tight ends and running backs. Look for more throws to running backs like Justin Forsett, and the Ravens three tight ends – Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle.
5. The urgency for the Ravens’ running game to click is greater.
Thursday night in Pittsburgh was a start, with Forsett running for 150 yards, and the line providing gaping holes. To win, the Ravens will need a consistent running attack to relive pressure on Flacco and the wide receivers.