The Baltimore Ravens were ravaged by injuries before the regular season even began, and things got even worse on that front Sunday.
All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey hit the deck with a shoulder injury December 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Offensive tackle Patrick Mekari also left the game with a hand issue.
Head coach John Harbaugh spoke to both injuries during his postgame press conference. The Ravens tweeted video of those comments Sunday afternoon.
“Pat Mekari has a hand issue, could be a few weeks,” Harbaugh said. “And Marlon Humphrey has an issue. We’ll get an MRI, but it could be awhile.”
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Later on Sunday, the news got even worse. Ian Rapoport, of the NFL Network, reported that Humphreys will likely miss the remainder of the season due to his bad shoulder.
“#Ravens star CB Marlon Humphrey is suspected to be out for the season with a shoulder injury, per sources,” Rapoport tweeted Sunday night. “A significant blow to Baltimore’s defense. Another one.”
Ravens Defensive Backfield Will Struggle to Handle yet Another Injury
Humphrey is not the first big-time corner the Ravens’ defense will have to do without this season.
CB Marcus Peters tore his ACL before the season even began. Now, adding Humphreys to the list, Baltimore’s secondary is competing with its running back room to see which unit can amass more injuries through worse luck as the lengthened NFL season/war of attrition drags on.
Humphrey was listed as questionable with an unspecified illness entering Sunday’s divisional matchup in Pittsburgh, per the team’s official injury report. Joining him under the tag of questionable were four other Ravens cornerbacks: Anthony Averett (shoulder/ankle), Jimmy Smith (neck), Chris Westry (thigh) and Tavon Young (illness).
Loss of Cornerbacks Contributed to Loss of Game
The Ravens’ 20-19 loss to the Steelers took them out of the AFC driver’s seat, handing over the conference’s top spot to the surging New England Patriots.
Based on comments from Harbaugh, the loss of Humphrey directly contributed to Sunday’s outcome due, at least in part, to the coach’s decision to go for a 2-point conversion down 1 with just 12 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.
That Harbaugh felt he could not rely on the health of his defensive backfield to make just one hypothetical stop against the Steelers (winning the coin toss and scoring a TD would have ended the game without Baltimore’s defense ever needing to take the field) is a disconcerting sign, particularly considering the opponents the Ravens have remaining on their schedule.
There will be no breaks for Baltimore the rest of the way, as the team’s final five games are all against opponents that could conceivably be playing in January this postseason.
The brutal stretch starts with a rematch of last week’s Sunday Night Football showdown against the Cleveland Browns, only this time Baltimore will play on the road.
The Ravens will then host the Green Bay Packers, currently the NFC’s second-best team, followed by games at the Cincinnati Bengals and home against the Los Angeles Rams. All three teams boast high-powered offenses led by talented quarterbacks.
Baltimore will finish the year hosting the Steelers in a game that is almost certain to have playoff implications for both teams, either in terms of seeding or simply to qualify for the postseason. The Ravens will need to find answers in the defensive backfield if the team hopes to keep up its winning ways through December and beyond.