OWINGS MILLS – The buzz surrounding the Ravens heading into Wednesday’s 1 p.m. practice:
Injuries are a major storyline for the Ravens at the moment, but coach John Harbaugh accepts that as a harsh reality of NFL football.
The Ravens already know that safety Matt Elam (biceps) and defensive end Brent Urban (biceps) will miss most of the season, if not the entire season. Meanwhile, many key players were missing from Tuesday’s practice, among them wide receivers Michael Campanaro (soft tissue injury) and Breshad Perriman (knee), left guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles), running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee), and cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring).
Teams constantly explore ways to prevent injuries, and the Ravens are no exception. However, if Harbaugh believed there was a practical way to prevent injuries, while still fielding a competitive team, he would already be doing it.
“If there was something you could do, as far as – I’m talking about how a head coach approaches practicing (for) games - if there was something you could do, if there was some science that told us that this would help with injuries other than the 20 percent on grass versus turf, you would do it,” Harbaugh said recently. “Sometimes, guys get hurt out here in half-speed drills – as we’ve seen before – and sometimes they get hurt in full-speed games. It’s just so unpredictable with the injuries. As a coach, (what) you really have to focus on is making sure your team is good enough, making sure they’re the best they can be and you come out and practice and understand that’s an unfortunate part of the game. That’s really the best you can do right now as a coach.”
The Ravens are hardly alone. A number of prominent NFL players have already suffered serious injuries since the start of training camp, including Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin (knee), Dolphins safety Louis Delmas (knee), Vikings tackle Phil Loadholt (Achilles), Packers receiver Jordy Nelson (knee), Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), Redskins tight ends Niles Paul (dislocated ankle) and Logan Paulsen (severe turf toe), Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (knee), and Bears receiver Kevin White (stress fracture).
The preseason is only half over. But for many players, the 2015 season is already over due to injuries. When the Ravens practice Wednesday, Harbaugh will do what he always does. He’ll hope that every player who starts practice will finish it.