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Harbaugh’s Fish Tales

Ravens injuries
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Ravens Injuries Continue to Pile Up

This isn’t exactly BREAKING NEWS:

The Baltimore Ravens aren’t forthcoming when it comes to player injuries.

We all remember back in 2015 when a “bruised knee”, suffered on the first day of training camp, ultimately sidelined first-round pick Breshad Perriman for the entire season. When pushed on the subject of injuries, head coach John Harbaugh either retreats, goes into the spin cycle or gets noticeably chippy with inquisitive members of the media.

This year’s injury story that could parallel Perriman in 2015 is unfortunately, that of Joe Flacco.

On day one of camp we learned of Flacco’s sore back.

“Joe Flacco – we found out yesterday [about his back injury] – and I guess it has been something that has been bothering him for a week or two. He didn’t say anything about it. It wasn’t really that bad; it flared up a little bit. We went and saw a back specialist, so they are recommending about a week of rest, and they say that should take care of it. I guess with a back, you can always say, ‘We’ll see.’ But, all indications from the back specialist and Dr. [John] Carbone are that he should be fine in about a week, and that is what we are hoping for and praying for.” ~ John Harbaugh, July 27, 2017

Yet the national media told a different tale…

Fast forward 2+ weeks when the Ravens finally confirm what the national NFL insiders shared from jump street…

Are we even sure that the latest injury report on Flacco is accurate, or is this just wishful thinking on the part of the Ravens? When they opened up the Colin Kaepernick can of worms, were they hinting that Flacco’s injury is far more serious than they are letting on? Maybe they don’t want to be forthcoming because it might hurt their negotiating leverage at the bargaining table?

Ravens injuries

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Ravens are a mess!

And now they are trying to patch up the team with bandaids. We learned yesterday that Tim White (thumb) and Alex Lewis (labrum) are out for the season. Who sits out for an entire season with a thumb injury? That looks like a red-shirt move to maintain control of the promising White whose story could track much like that of another undrafted free agent – Victor Cruz. Time will tell.

But clearly, the costlier injury is that of Lewis’. And the guy being considered as a replacement is former Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah, a player that really doesn’t seem to be a fit in Greg Roman’s downhill, sled driving blocking schemes.

Looks like another Ravens bandaid…

And these bandaids are costly.

The Ravens hired Austin Howard, presumably to take over at right tackle. To create cap space for the signing, the Ravens restructured Jimmy Smith’s contract, converting $7.75M of his $8.5M 2017 salary into bonus money, thus freeing up $5.15M in cap space this season. The move adds $2.575M to Smith’s cap figures in 2018 and 2019. Those figures are now as follows:

Jimmy Smith cap numbers

These are hefty cap numbers for an oft-injured corner who will turn 30 in 2018.

Adding insult to injury, the Ravens’ mortgaging the future move was made in part to bring in a recovering player (Howard) who has yet to step foot on the practice field as a member of the Ravens.

And now they are seriously re-considering Zuttah, a guy they gave up on just a few months ago?

Are these just desperate moves to help preserve the Harbaugh administration? Or could the injuries actually save Harbaugh?

SIDE BAR: The Ravens need to hire an outside consultant to thoroughly investigate how they prepare their athletes; the shoes they use; the fields they play on; their medical staff; their pre-draft evaluation of injuries; the intensity of their practices; and their strength and conditioning program. The Ravens lead the NFL in injuries and it can’t be all just bad luck, can it?

You know maybe signing Kaepernick isn’t such a bad idea. Given the Ravens disintegrating O-Line, perhaps a quarterback capable of running for his life is the way to go.

But to do so, the Ravens would have to pull out their credit card, mortgage the future again, and restructure some other contracts.

It’s an ugly situation.

And there are 19 games to go.

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