The Baltimore Ravens are dealing with a distressing number of injuries and it’s still a month before the regular season opener in Cincinnati.
Maybe the team needs to look about 40 miles south in Annapolis for proactive ways to deal with this challenge.
When the Navy Midshipmen held their annual football media day on Aug. 5, a key concern was how the Mids were going to recover from injuries that decimated their roster the prior season. The team lost two starting quarterbacks and several key playmakers to knee and foot injuries throughout the year.
In the offseason, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo convened a meeting with representatives from his strength and conditioning, training and equipment personnel to figure out ways limit season-ending injuries. He is confident that he found some valuable solutions.
Some of those measures included the type of footwear worn by the players. Navy’s athletic program worked directly with Under Armour to make sure each individual athlete on the football and lacrosse team were wearing the proper cleats and ones that would help prevent injuries. They learned that one type of cleat didn’t work for every player and adjustments were made.
The Mids also revamped their training room and instituted fusionetics, which is a performance health system designed to reduce injuries, decrease pain, optimize performance and speed recovery. The key is looking at injuries from the “ground up” and finding ways to prevent them.
Finally, the Mids spend their weeks practicing on grass fields on the academy grounds as opposed to taking reps at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which has artificial turf.
The Ravens have also dealt with several knee and ankle injuries throughout the past several seasons. The team was proactive in helping combat some of these problems by replacing the artificial surface at M&T Bank Stadium with natural grass. In fact, the team only practices on artificial turf when inclement weather forces them indoors in Owings Mills.
The team also brought in Steve Saunders this offseason as the director of performance to help with strength and conditioning. While several players have said they benefited from the workouts, it remains to be seen how that will keep them on the field long term. The number of setbacks in this year’s OTAs and training camp has been particularly concerning.
Maybe the Ravens need to hold their own summit to find ways to combat injuries from the “ground up.” The problem certainly appears serious to warrant new ways to approach it, and perhaps, to alter the way they practice.
— Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley missed his second straight practice Monday for an undisclosed reason. This means Stanley might also be held out of the game Thursday against the Dolphins. Another offensive lineman, Jermaine Eluemunor had to leave Monday’s practice early. The injuries to the offensive line sheds some light on why quarterback Joe Flacco won’t take a snap in a preseason game.
Receiver Quincy Adeboyejo also was out with a knee injury. This is significant because fellow rookie receiver Tim White is already lost for the year with torn ligaments in his thumb. However, safety Eric Weddle and linebacker Tyus Bowser were back on the field after missing time the previous day.
It was a light practice in shorts.
Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg also provided an update on Flacco following practice.
“It looks like we’ll have just enough time there to get him ready as long as he keeps progressing,” Mornhinweg said. “By all accounts, he’s progressing pretty well.”
— Baltimore brought in another experienced quarterback not named Colin Kaepernick on Monday.
The team signed journeyman Thad Lewis and cut Dustin Vaughan, who struggled Thursday against the Redskins. Lewis, a Duke graduate, has played for seven teams in seven seasons, but has not thrown a pass in the regular season since 2013. That was also Lewis’ best year as a pro when he appeared in six games, throwing for 1,092 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
One interesting note: Center Matt Skura also went to Duke. Has there ever been a pair of Blue Devils in the NFL potentially snapping the ball to one another?
— Justin Tucker uncharacteristically missed a 42-yard field goal attempt against the Redskins and has also botched a few kicks in practice.
Nonetheless, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg is not the least bit concerned.
“He has an excellent track record,” Rosburg said about Tucker. “We’re happy to have him and we trust him.”