Adversity in The Desert

Street Talk Adversity in The Desert

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No one is feeling sorry for the Ravens and their latest challenges with injuries. More importantly, they’re not feeling sorry for themselves. Welcome to the world of adversity in the NFL.

The Ravens will have their mettle tested in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. They’ll be playing without all the running backs on their depth chart during training camp and they’re down a Pro-Bowl cornerback. 

Coach John Harbaugh is staring down the adversity, embracing the challenge. 

“We have leaders everywhere,” Harbaugh said. “We have leaders in rooms. We have leaders in relationships. We have leaders with their families. We have a bunch of men and women in the organization, but I’m just talking about the football team, who lead every single day in their way. We lead one another in our relationships. So, it’s us. It’s us together. We’ve got us; I like us. I like everything about us, and I’m excited about us going forward into this season. I can’t wait to get the season started.”

In the span of 10 days, the Ravens lost all three running backs on their depth chart — J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards.

They lost starting cornerback Marcus Peters, who is among the best in the NFL.

One of their No. picks in this year’s draft — wide receiver Rashod Bateman — and the league’s top blocking tight end — Nick Boyle — will start the season on IR.

Many teams would collapse under the weight of such adversity, but the Ravens are already taking steps to absorb these losses.

 “I think you mourn for a day and we fight today,” Harbaugh said. “We got a really good team, a lot of great players. We can move forward. The train is moving fast.”

In addition to Ty’Son Williams who made the team out of training camp, Baltimore signed Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman at running back. They signed another running back Trenton Cannon as a special teams ace.

Baltimore also signed Latavius Murray, who ran the ball 146 times for 656 yards (4.5 yards per carry) with four touchdowns last season with the Saints. He also caught 23 passes on 26 targets for 176 yards with one touchdown.

 “I think his style is a great fit,” Harbaugh said. “You guys have all watched him play. You’re football fans, and you cover the game – his style fits what we do. You’ve seen our offense; I think you can picture him pretty easily in that offense.”

The Ravens still have their leading rusher from last season still in the lineup — quarterback Lamar Jackson. As long as Jackson is healthy, Baltimore will be productive on offense and be able to score points. 

The Ravens will shift Anthony Averett or Jimmy Smith into the starting role to absorb the loss of Peters.

It’s a bit of a drop but the Ravens have the depth and ingenuity to take on the blow.

Don Martindale has established himself as one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL and he’ll dial up some schemes to compensate for the loss of Peters.

“We have starters playing as backups, so that tells you the depth of this team,” Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston said. “Our unit is so special. If we get in our own way, that’s the only way we’re going to stop ourselves. I don’t see anybody stopping us. We could stop ourselves, but if we prepare like we’re supposed to and put the work in, I don’t see anyone stopping us.”

The Ravens are still a playoff-caliber team albeit with a different look. 

The quest to overcome the unexpected adversity begins Monday night against the Las Vegas Raiders. 

“I feel like that plays to our advantage more than anything, because I’ve always felt, even personally, I want people to underestimate me in thinking that they’re not going to get something that they’re going to get,” left tackle Ronnie Stanley said. “So, guys can think whatever they want. The Ravens are going to be the Ravens. We’re going to step up.”

[Related Article: Keys to Victory v. Raiders]



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About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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