Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Injuries Mounting for the Ravens

The inury bug is starting to hit the Ravens hard, as today it was announced that Demetrius Williams will be placed on injured reserve, ending his season. To add onto that, Chris McAlister's season might end soon due to the worsening of his knee injury. Ouch. (no pun intended)

This is a huge blow to the Ravens and their playoff hopes, as they have already lost several players. The injury list (just for the starters who are currently injured) has now piled up to:
-Marshal Yanda (out for the season)
-Adam Terry (missed several games, still out indefinitely)
-Demetrius Williams (out for the season)
-Samari Rolle (missed several games, may return soon)
-Chris McAlister (missed several games, possibly out for season)
-Dawan Landry (missed several games, still out indefinitely)
-Kelly Gregg (out for the season)
-Yamon Figurs (missed several games, may return soon)

This list does not include the loss of Kyle Boller for the season, Troy Smith's injury which forced Flacco into early duty, McGahee's knee issues, and Ed Reed's nagging neck problem. To the Ravens' credit, they have dealt admirably with the loss of so many of their key players. People talked about how the Raiders were without Darren McFadden and that was a key advantage; what about the injuries the Ravens have sustained? Justin Bannan has stepped up huge for Kelly Gregg, Frank Walker and Fabian Washington for McAlister and Rolle, Willie Anderson for Adam Terry, Chris Chester for Marshal Yanda, and Jim Leonhard for Yamon Figurs and Dawan Landry.

The front office needs to be commended for putting in place this much depth in the Ravens' roster. Their tireless pursuit of offensive and defensive line depth in the draft has payed immense dividends, and their offseason pickups of Fabian Washington, Jim Leonhard, Frank Walker, and Willie Anderson have made this team competitive despite the vast injury problems. The question remains: Can the Ravens continue to find effective replacements for these key players, and will these injuries unravel their promising season?

The current injury which frightens myself the most is Demetrius Williams. Not only had Demetrius finally taken a positive step in the offense, he was finally supposed to be healthy this season after battling earlier problems. Without Williams this receiving corps is nearly empty. The Ravens acquired Terrance Copper today (released earlier by the Saints) in response to the injury, but they are still left with very few options to replace Williams as the third receiver. The choices are now between Yamon Figurs (whose knee is improving according to the Baltimore Sun), Terrance Copper, and rookies Marcus Smith and Ernie Wheelwright. Of these I don't know which would be the best; I would like to say Marcus Smith because I was very high on him in the draft, but I feel like if the organization had confidence in him he would have been activated for a game by now. If Figurs is healthy, then he gets the nod. If not, don't be suprised if Ernie Wheelwright becomes the third wideout -- he is an undrafted rookie who had a good career at Minnesota (a run-dominated school) who has fought his way onto the roster. If a player with such little hype or draft status gets retained by the team and then promoted to the 52-man roster, then the coaching staff must like him and he must be showing alot in practice.

Ravens fans have to be pleased with how their team has battled despite injuries. They can only hope that the backups can continue their impressive performance.

(Photo credit: Elizabeth Malby, Baltimore Sun)

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