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Late For Work 8/1: Any Concern Over Ravens’ Recent Injury Bug?

Birk’s new schedule not a concern. Training camp stock up, stock down. Haloti Maximus born.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 at 8:55 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Any Concern Over Recent Injury Bug?

Ravens training camp has only been in session for one week.

Yet the team has come down with a recent injury bug that has sidelined a long list of players.

With more names added to that list daily, should there be any cause for concern?

“Yeah, it is a little concerning,” CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg told WNST.

The most serious injury of camp so far came Monday when one of quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite targets – tight end Dennis Pitta – broke a bone in his hand. He is projected to miss the rest of training camp and the entire preseason.

“[Pitta's] a loss if he’s out all of training camp and the preseason. That sets back his ability to contribute possibly in 2012,” Eisenberg said. “That’s a guy that was coming on really strong. I really like him, I think he’s good. Flacco, more importantly, really likes him and was throwing to him more and more as the season went on.

“They will miss him. It’s an offense that can’t afford to lose too many targets so that hurts.”

There are other big names currently sidelined. The biggest of course is Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs (Achilles), who will miss an indefinite amount of the 2012 season. Plus there’s starters Haloti Ngata (hamstring), Bryant McKinnie (back) and Courtney Upshaw (bruised shoulder).

A total of 13 players were either sidelined or left practice early yesterday, according to The Baltimore Sun.

In addition to those named above, The Sun’s list includes wide receivers David Reed (knee surgery) and Tandon Doss (hamstring), center Matt Birk (day off), tackle/guard Jah Reid (calf), linebacker Josh Bynes (undisclosed), defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee surgery), running back Bernard Pierce (hamstring) and defensive tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu (undisclosed).

The good news is that the Ravens have until their season-opener on Sept. 10 to get healthy, and a majority of the injured players are expected back before that date.

“I realize that they don’t play a game that matters for six or seven weeks,” said Eisenberg, “but you don’t want it to keep spreading beyond that.”

Birk’s New Schedule Not A Concern

One of the players listed above that really is of no concern is the 36-year-old center Birk.

He sat out the second straight practice Tuesday, which at first had some wondering if there was an issue with his health.

Nope.

Head Coach John Harbaugh explained after practice that the 15-year veteran will get more days off than others throughout training camp.

“Matt’s at a stage in his career where he’s going to practice less than he’s not going to practice,” Harbaugh said. “And I think that would be the best thing for Matt getting ready to go.”

Birk has started 96 straight games, which is the longest active streak among centers in the NFL, so the new schedule seems to be a smart one.

Not really concerned about Birk missing practice time. He’s always been ready on game day,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, who also noted one advantage to being on the field more often.

“But the Ravens would prefer to have Birk and left tackle Bryant McKinnie on the field to maintain that chemistry along the offensive line.”

Stock Up, Stock Down

It’s early. Real early.

But after a week of practice, Eisenberg is starting to get a feel for some Ravens’ stock projections.

One of the more interesting is the columnist’s estimation on two young offensive linemen: rookie Kelechi Osemele and second-year player Jah Reid.

“I think they like [K.O.] better, it seems like, than Jah Reid,” Eisenberg told WNST. “This is a guy that I think is going to be in the mix in the offensive line going forward for a number of years.”

When Osemele returned to practice after dealing with back spasms, the Ravens immediately inserted him with the first-team offense at right tackle and moved Michael Oher to the left side. Eisenberg says the team likes K.O.’s combination of size (6-foot-5, 333 pounds) with speed and athleticism.

Meanwhile, Reid, the Ravens’ third-round pick out of Central Florida a year ago, hasn’t been able to show off his ability as he’s dealing with a calf injury.

“You can’t blame a guy for getting hurt, but Reid’s calf injury is keeping him from a golden opportunity,” Eisenberg wrote. “Now Osemele seemingly has moved ahead of him. Before that, he was in line for a shot at left guard, but the Ravens went and signed veteran Bobbie Williams instead. The second-year tackle needs to get back and get going.”

Other players whose stock is up:

  • Undrafted free agent receiver Deonte Thompson: “It’s doubtful the Ravens are just going to jettison a speedy playmaker.”
  • Veteran Guard Bobbie Williams: “Remember when replacing Ben Grubbs was a big issue?”
  • Top 2010 draft pick Sergio Kindle: “[H]e looks much more polished and has made his presence known with his combination of size and speed.”

Players whose stock is down:

  • Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe: “He’s been quiet in camp.”
  • Second-year running back Anthony Allen: “The second-year running back has to stand out to beat out [Pierce] … It’s not happening so far.”

Quick Hits

  • @Ravens: Maryland football coach Randy Edsall is out at practice today. #GoTerps! [Twitter]
  • @DJBerry20 [Damien Berry, who's battling for time at running back]: Anything worth havin is worth fightin for…. [Twitter]
  • Overheard by Jeff Zrebiec at practice yesterday: “Oh my God, that’s my [bleeping] ball,” wide receiver Logan Payne said after wrestling a pass away from cornerback Danny Gorrer. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Receiver LaQuan Williams walked out of practice with a towel draped over his head, reports Matt Vensel, but Harbaugh said he will be fine. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • The wife of Haloti Ngata gave birth to their second son, Haloti Maximus. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Speaking of Ngata, analyst Damien Woody says he’s one of the most important defensive players in the AFC. [ESPN]

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