The Baltimore Ravens have suffered yet another injury to their secondary, with undrafted rookie safety Ar’Darius Washington injuring his foot during practice on Wednesday, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.
The injury is “potentially significant,” throwing Washington’s status for Sunday night’s primetime matchup with the Cleveland Browns into question.
The Ravens were already without cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Jimmy Smith against the Bears, leaving them with only Marlon Humphrey, Chris Westry and Tavon Young, with Washington and fellow rookie Brandon Stephens also available to play corner. But Stephens was already starting at safety after a season-ending injury to DeShon Elliott two weeks ago, forcing Washington to take the field when Young limped off on Sunday.
Averett returned to practice as a limited participant today, while Smith remained sidelined, per the Ravens’ official injury report. Westry and Young both missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, though there haven’t been any additional reports on their statuses. Humphrey remains the only healthy cornerback on the Ravens’ active roster, making the secondary a key position group to monitor in the days leading up to Sunday’s game against the Browns.
Highly-Ranked UDFA, But Little Usage
Despite his miniature 5-foot-8, 178-pound frame, Washington was still widely expected to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft out of TCU, but was somehow still available when the draft ended. Despite taking two defensive backs, the Ravens still jumped at the opportunity to sign Washington given his upside as a Tyrann Mathieu-like playmaker at safety.
The move received rave reviews from draft evaluators, with Pro Football Focus’s Zach Tantillo ranking it as the top undrafted free agent signing of the year:
Ranked as the No. 57 overall prospect on PFF’s 2021 NFL Draft Big Board, Washington was the top player remaining when the seventh round concluded Saturday evening.
At 5-foot-8, 178 pounds, Washington is undersized for a safety, but that has yet to stop him from wreaking havoc in the secondary. He was PFF’s second-highest-graded safety in 2019 (91.7), with Mike Renner comping him to Super Bowl champion Tyrann Mathieu in PFF’s 2021 NFL Draft Guide.
Baltimore wasted no time signing the TCU product, adding him to an already elite Ravens secondary. His versatility should be a fine addition to Baltimore’s defense, as Washington played 100-plus snaps covering deep, in the box and the slot in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
In 2019, he had five picks and broke up an additional four passes, and while he certainly regressed in 2020 — some throws hit over the top in his coverage area — Washington’s suddenness in the slot and when planting and driving on a sideline throw from the deep middle continued to pop on film. He’s a rocket against the run too. And while his smaller 5-8, 176-pound frame likely contributed to his undrafted status, I don’t need my freelancing safety who has to cover the slot much bigger in today’s NFL. I really don’t. Remember, Tyrann Mathieu was 5-9 and 186 pounds at the 2013 combine.
Washington is going to make the Ravens and shine in Baltimore’s blitz-happy defense that leans on quality coverage from its safeties and highlights them as playmakers at the intermediate level.
But Washington has barely seen any time in Baltimore, with only seven total defensive snaps and 22 on special teams. Despite injuries to multiple Ravens defensive backs, Washington has been a healthy scratch for seven of Baltimore’s 10 games this season. Zrebiec’s report of his injury doesn’t bode well for his availability for the rest of his rookie year, though the Ravens have yet to officially release any updates on Washington’s status.
Ravens Protect 2 Practice Squad CBs
With so many injuries in their secondary, the Ravens opted to protect veteran defensive backs Jordan Richards and Kevon Seymour on their practice squad this week, per the NFL’s official transaction report, in case they need to activate one or both for Sunday’s game.
Richards has appeared in one game this season, featuring only on special teams against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5. He’s
Seymour arrived in Baltimore this season, playing in three games mostly as a special teams contributor. Expect to see at least one of the two practice squad defensive backs on Sunday, barring significant turnarounds for multiple Ravens in the next few days.