Ravens Lose Star WR for Matchup With Bears

Ravens Hollywood Brown

Getty Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown warms up before a 2021 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Baltimore Ravens star wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown has been officially ruled out for today’s matchup with the Chicago Bears, per an announcement from the Ravens via Twitter.

Brown has been dealing with a thigh injury this week, missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday before returning as a limited participant on Friday. He was initially listed as questionable on the Ravens’ official injury report, but the team has since reconsidered, sidelining him for today’s game.

Brown became the second Raven to be downgraded yesterday after star quarterback Lamar Jackson was announced as questionable after receiving no initial designation on the injury report. While Brown’s absence is certainly disappointing for the Ravens, it’s not devastating in the same way that Jackson’s potential absence would be.

Still, the former Oklahoma Sooner is in the midst of a breakout season in Baltimore, ranking in the NFL’s top-10 for both receiving yards per game and receiving touchdowns. Last year, Brown had 58 catches for 769 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games, but through just nine games in 2021, he has 52 catches for 719 yards and six touchdowns, putting him on pace for his first 1,000 yard season in the NFL.

His performance thus far this season inspired Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic to predict in early November that “Marquise Brown will be the first homegrown Ravens WR to make the Pro Bowl.”

He wrote:

Brown’s six touchdowns rank only behind Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase among AFC receivers. He’s on pace to finish with just under 90 catches and 1,400 receiving yards. Even with Rashod Bateman’s role expanding and Watkins returning soon, Jackson will still look for Brown on deep passes and in the red zone. Ravens wide receiver Jermaine Lewis made the Pro Bowl in 1998 and 2001, but it was as a return specialist. It’s been a long wait for the Ravens to get a homegrown receiver into the Pro Bowl and Brown is in a good position to end it.

Past Injuries Loom Over Brown

Brown’s return to practice on Friday and ‘questionable’ injury designation initially suggested that he’d be available for today’s game, but it’s likely that the Ravens are holding him out as a precaution given his injury history, which predates his entrance into the NFL.

According to Zrebiec, Brown underwent Lisfranc surgery in January 2019, with screws being inserted into his left foot just a few months before he was drafted by the Ravens with the 25th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The aftereffects of the surgery clearly hindered Brown during his rookie season, causing him to have another surgery to remove the screws in February 2020, as first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Brown has also dealt with injuries to his hamstring and ankle this season, though neither have forced him to sit out a game.

Despite his lengthy injury history, today’s game will only be the third injury-related absence of Brown’s career, with an ankle sprain sidelining him for two games during his rookie season.

With a difficult stretch of games to close out the season, the Ravens would likely rather have Brown return to 100% health rather than risk a more severe injury by playing him against the Bears.

Ravens Down Multiple WRs

Brown will not be the only Ravens receiver to be sidelined today, with fellow 2019 draft pick Miles Boykin also ruled out by the Ravens due to a finger injury.

Boykin started the season on the injured reserve list with a hamstring injury, but returned in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts. He’s played in every game since then, though an influx of talent at wide receiver has mostly relegated Boykin to special teams. He’s only played 32 total snaps on offense this season, while he’s been on the field for more than 60% of the Ravens’ special teams snaps for their past five games.

Second-year receiver Devin Duvernay is listed as questionable with a knee injury after his limited participation in Friday’s practice. Along with leading the NFL with 16.3 yards per punt return, Duvernay has emerged as a consistent contributor in Baltimore’s offense. He’s caught 19 of his 25 targets with zero drops, per Pro Football Focus, including two touchdowns. The former Texas Longhorn is also seeing expanded usage as a runner in recent games, with all three of his carries on the season coming in the Ravens’ last four games.

While Brown’s absence will already provide rookie Rashod Bateman and veteran Sammy Watkins with more targets, Duvernay’s absence would mean more playing time for James Proche and Tylan Wallace.

Both are thought to be talented wideouts, but they’ve been victims of a crowded wide receiver room in Baltimore this season. While Proche proved that he’s an NFL-caliber receiver in Week 4 against the Denver Broncos, Wallace has yet to receive any real opportunities in the regular season. Both will look to expand their role in the Ravens’ offense on Sunday against the Bears.