The Baltimore Ravens have just lost another key player to a season-ending injury, with head coach John Harbaugh telling media today that veteran defensive end Derek Wolfe is not expected to see the field this season.
Wolfe suffered a back injury during joint training camp with the Carolina Panthers in August, forcing him onto short-term injured reserve early in the regular season. He was activated from the injured reserve list on October 26 and subsequently returned to team practices, fueling optimism in Baltimore that Wolfe would be back sooner rather than later.
But with his three-week window to be added back to the Ravens’ active roster set to close tomorrow, it appears that Wolfe will not play a single down this season.
“That’s not going to be looking good this year. I think Derek is going to be out for the rest of the year in all honesty,” said Harbaugh this afternoon, clearly disappointed that the veteran would not be rejoining the Ravens this season.
Harbaugh didn’t provide any clarity regarding the specifics of Wolfe’s injury and why he’s been unable to recover, only saying, “He’s not in a place where he’s going to be able to play.”
Ravens Lose Yet Another Starter
If Wolfe indeed misses the rest of the year, he would become the seventh Ravens starter to be ruled out for the season, joining Ronnie Stanley, DeShon Elliott, Marcus Peters, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and L.J. Fort on the sidelines.
The veteran defensive lineman joined the Ravens from the Denver Broncos before the 2020 season, emerging as one of Baltimore’s best run defenders with a career-high 51 tackles and a team-high 82.8 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus in 2020. But Wolfe struggled as a pass rusher, recording only 14 total quarterback pressures, the lowest single-season total in his career.
With Wolfe out for the year, the Ravens will rely even more on veteran Calais Campbell, who has returned to All-Pro form this season as a game-wrecking presence in the interior of the Ravens defense. But he’ll need help from second-year defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, who was mentioned as a breakout candidate in the preseason but has failed to live up to that billing. Broderick Washington Jr. and Justin ‘Jelly’ Ellis will continue to see more snaps, with two-way lineman Kahlil McKenzie now a candidate to be added to the active roster.
Tavon Young Injury Not ‘Real Severe’
Harbaugh did make several positive injury-related announcements, including one regarding Tavon Young‘s foot injury.
The sixth-year cornerback left Thursday’s game and did not return, but Harbaugh said that his injury “doesn’t look real severe,” adding, “He’ll have a chance to play this week.”
Even a short absence from the injury-prone Young could have been disastrous for a decimated Ravens secondary that has struggled to prevent big plays.
Harbaugh also said that veteran tight end Nick Boyle was close to playing on Thursday, making him a near-lock to make his season debut next Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
When asked about injured offensive guard Ben Cleveland, Harbaugh said, “He’s going to be an option coming up.” The rookie has missed the Ravens’ last four games, but played more than 40% of the team’s offensive snaps in Weeks 2, 3 and 4.
“I don’t know if he’ll make it this week or not, but he’d have a chance,” added Harbaugh.