Lardarius Webb’s ACL tear on Sunday wasn’t the first of his career and it wasn’t his first at M&T Bank Stadium.
As more teams move to FieldTurf over grass playing surfaces, many columnists and studies have addressed the potential link of knee injuries occurring more frequently on artificial playing fields versus natural grass.
“It’s a valid conversation that should always be had on what makes the safest playing surface for these guys,” Harbaugh said when I asked about the health of players on artificial surfaces.
In regards to Webb’s injury specifically, Harbaugh said, “I don’t know, I’ll leave that to the studies.”
Before the 2010 season, the NFL Injury and Safety Panel conducted a study and found that ACL injuries are 88% more likely on FieldTurf versus natural grass surfaces.
When presented with the information in 2010, Eric Daliere, the President of FieldTurf, suggested the study by the panel was flawed and that FieldTurf fields are safer than natural grass fields.
As far as Harbaugh’s impression of the studies, he said, “We’ve seen some [studies] that go both ways on that.”
Regardless of what the studies say, the Ravens will be without their top cornerback for the reminder of their 2012 football season. The odds are that Webb will not be able to play to the level of his recently signed contract (six-year, $50 million deal including $20 M guaranteed) now that he’ll have to resume his career in 2013 with two surgically repaired knees.
Harbaugh however thinks otherwise.
“He’s been through this before and he will rehab like crazy. He’ll be back next year stronger than ever before. He’s just that kind of guy.”