The Baltimore Ravens came away with a 24-9 victory over the New York Jets in their season opener but it came at a cost in the form of season-ending injuries to key depth pieces on both sides of the ball.
A day after announcing that veteran offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James tore the same Achilles tendon that caused him to miss all of the 2021 season, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters MRIs confirmed that veteran cornerback Kyle Fuller suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2022 season as well.
He went down to the turf in the end zone and clutched his knee on a play in the second half where he was pushed in the back by Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore who was flagged for offensive pass interference after making the catch.
“One of those things. Just a crazy circumstance on the astroturf — got pushed off and just landed the wrong way in the turf and the turf doesn’t usually give as much as grass,” Harbaugh said in a Monday press conference on September 12.
Fuller signed with the Ravens in the offseason on May 24, and was slated to provide quality, experienced, starting caliber, and playmaking depth at cornerback. He started the season opener against the Jets in place of Marcus Peters who was inactive as the team wanted to give him an extra week before returning to game action coming off a torn ACL of his own.
“He just liked everything about what we were doing and he fit in so well, was playing good ball in the game, and really all camp,” Harbaugh said. “Such a serious guy, so determined. He’ll come back stronger than ever.”
Ripple Effect On Depth Chart
Fuller was replaced in the starting lineup opposite Marlon Humphrey by second-year pro Brandon Stephens who started 11 games at free safety last year but has made the transition back to cornerback where he played his last two collegiate seasons at SMU.
The 2021 third-rounder had a solid game overall in coverage with some nice plays and some mistakes. He had a couple of clutch pass breakups, including one on a second effort that led to a fourth down and resulted in a missed field goal. Stephens also got called for a defensive holding penalty that negated a solo sack by defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.
“He played a really good, fundamentally sound football game,” Harbaugh said. “Had key plays on the ball to get us off the field. Generally played a really good game, I thought it was a good step from where he was last year.”
The Ravens also have rookies Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion ‘Pepe’ Williams who they selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft. They played a combined 16 defensive snaps between them with Williams playing the most with 13 to Armour-Davis’ three.
The cornerback position has long been the Achilles heel that has cost the team in seasons where they could’ve been and often were viewed as strong championship contenders. A prime example of that was last season and when they were reduced to turning to sign free agents off the street late in the season after injuries depleted their starting caliber options on the roster.
Even though they have veterans Kevon Seymour and Daryl Worley and second-year pro Ar’Darius Washington on their practice squad, the Ravens are firm believers in the cliche ‘a team can never have enough corners. They likely are already monitoring the veteran free agent market and looking at other teams’ practice squads for potential reinforcements as well.
Some free agent options include Chris Westry who appeared in six games and made two starts with the Ravens in 2021, former four-time Pro Bowler Chris Harris Jr, former three-time Pro Bowler Xavier Rhodes, and sixth-year pro Kevin King who has started 42 of his 51 career games.