Like it or not, injuries are a huge part of the NFL. They often make or break a team’s season, and the brutal physicality of the game means that one snap can make the mean difference between Super Bowl contender and major offseason changes. It may not be fair, but it is a reality. Teams strive to ensure they have depth at all positions each year, but decisions must ultimately be made regarding how many players to keep at each. There are positions where even the Ravens can’t afford injuries.
Success can be sustained when quality depth is present at every position. This obviously isn’t easy to do, as there are only so many good players to go around and so much salary cap money to spend. The Ravens are one team that has done a rather masterful job over the years completing this balancing act, but every team is vulnerable somewhere. Let’s take a look at positions where injuries would prove to be a huge burden.
The most obvious position that cannot withstand an injury is also the one where it is very tough to find quality backups. Heck, there are a lot of teams that can’t even find a decent starter. It goes without saying that if Joe Flacco missed time due to injury, the Ravens would be in a world of trouble. Tyrod Taylor has proven that he isn’t the answer, and Keith Wenning is simply too raw at this point.
Behind starters Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith there are a number of options, but none of them is anywhere close to the same caliber. The Ravens brought in a bus full of cornerbacks for minicamp and still have a lot on the roster, but at this point they are hoping that one of them can simply fill the #3 spot. So far none have risen to the top, and it’s a scary thought that any may need to make a start during the season.
While the team can always shuffle guys around if incumbent starter Rick Wagner is injured, that type of experiment is best served before the season starts. Shuffling around during the season works sometimes, but isn’t ideal. The team does have promising Ryan Jensen behind Wagner at the moment, but he is even more unproven than Wagner after spending his entire rookie season on I.R.
The good news is, the Ravens have fantastic depth at pretty much every other position. Running back, tight end, wide receiver, defensive tackle, and linebacker all feature a number of talented options that are essentially plug and play in the event of an injury. Hopefully as we progress through offseason activities, new options will emerge, but ideally the starters at these key positions will avoid the injury bug.
What positions are you concerned about if injuries struck?