Ravens left guard Kelechi Osemele announced on Wednesday that a back injury has hampered his play not just this season, but last season as well. Osemele left the Oct. 6 game in Miami after the opening series because of back spasms, which he blamed on a soft mattress. He’s played the last two games and he wasn’t listed on the injury report last week.
“Obviously, I’ve been dealing with it for a while and it’s getting to the point where I’m going to eventually go ahead and get that fixed,” the second-year player told members of the media after Wednesday’s practice. “I was avoiding it for as long as I could, gambling with it. I just can’t afford to gamble with it any longer. It’s something I definitely have to do something with after the season.”
News of Osemele’s injury is certainly not what Ravens fans want to hear. While the revelation could help to explain his diminished play compared to his rookie campaign, it clouds what could be a very promising future in the NFL.
“I’m not 100 percent, and I won’t be until surgery after the season, until they fix the disk,” Osemele told Sports Illustrated on Sunday following the Steelers game. “But I manage it, and treat it every day to treat the symptoms. With this issue degrading, it’s going to take time to heal. And it’s not going to heal during the season; this is a full-contact sport. But I can’t make excuses, I’ve just got to continue to get better.”
Harbaugh did confirm on Monday that Osemele didn’t need back surgery last year, and said that he might or might not need it after this season.
Last season Osemele had a stellar performance as rookie for the Ravens where he started at right tackle during the regular season and starting left guard during the playoffs (1,216 snaps, 95%).
The Ravens went to Pittsburgh averaging 2.7 yards per carry, with 19 sacks allowed by a retooled offensive line. To say the starting offensive line has struggled thus far this season is putting it mildly. K.O. has graded out poorly thus far this season, however Sunday he played his best game of the campaign, per our own Ken McKusick:
He got good push when run blocking, made 5 blocks in L2, and had 2 pancakes. Scoring: 54 blocks, 4 missed, 1.5 pressures, 51 points (.84 per play). His quality run blocking is offset by 2 pressures where he would have been fully charged had someone not been present to share the event. B.
“It’s off and on, sometimes it gets bad during a game,” Osemele said, referring to his injury. “It’s definitely off and on. There’s some days where I feel good and some days where I feel terrible. This year, I’ve just been having more occurrences. I’m focused on trying to help my team win. They feel like I’m the best chance to win games at my position, so I’m just going to deal with it.”
Well here’s to hoping that K.O. gets healthy, as the Ravens offensive line is going to need him down the stretch even more so than last year. With very little depth behind the starters let us hope Osemele gets the rest he needs during the team’s bye week.
“It’s a really good week, the rest is definitely going to help to come back fresh, come back healthy, come back stronger,” Osemele said. “That’s always going to be good. Getting the bye week is always necessary for someone who’s trying to recover.”
Please K.O. – no more soft mattresses, and if you have to, sleep on the floor.
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