Ravens left guard Kelechi Osemele acknowledged that a back injury has affected his play this season and expects to have surgery to repair the damage during the offseason.
No surgery is currently scheduled at this time, which could change after the season when the back is examined again. The back has been looked at previously by doctors with surgery not recommended prior to this season. Osemele sounds convinced that the medical situation can only be put off for so long.
"Obviously, I've been dealing with it for a while and it's getting to the point where I'm going to eventually go ahead and get that fixed," Osemele said Wednesday following the Ravens' final practice before a bye. "I was avoiding it for as long as I could, gambling with it. I just can't afford to gamble with it any longer. It's something I definitely have to do something with after the season."
Osemele hasn't graded out as well this year after an encouraging rookie season in which he started every game at right tackle during the regular season before shifting to left guard for four playoff games during the Ravens' Super Bowl run.
"Back is a big thing," Osemele said. "It's connected to everything. It's connected to your legs. It's everything from that point down is affected. It's affected my power. I'm an offensive lineman. I need to have strong legs. So, obviously it's affected me."
Osemele said, for his long-term health, it's necessary that he get this back issue addressed.
"You know quality of life and longevity," Osemele said. "I have a long career, so it's something I'm going to have to deal with after the season."
Osemele admitted there's been some frustration felt due to the Ravens' 3-4 start and running game issues.
"Every year, there's going to be some type of issue," Osemele said. "There's going to be guys who are banged up every year. It's just the nature of the sport, but we're dealing with it the best way we can. We're trying to win games and that's what we're focused on right now."
Osemele was forced out of the Ravens' win over the Miami Dolphins and replaced by A.Q. Shipley after a handful of plays due to back spasms that caused him a significant amount of pain during pregame drills.
"It's off and on, sometimes it gets bad during a game," Osemele said. "It's definitely off and on. There's some days where I feel good and some days where I feel terrible. This year, I've just been having more occurrences. I'm focused on trying to help my team win. They feel like I'm the best chance to win games at my position, so I'm just going to deal with it."
Osemele said after the game against the Dolphins that a soft mattress at the team hotel contributed to his back problems, saying he prefers a firm mattress. Osemele laughed when asked if he's in line for a mattress commercial.
Now, Osemele gets some time off before the Ravens return to work next Monday to prepare for a Nov. 3 game against the Cleveland Browns.
"It's a really good week, the rest is definitely going to help to come back fresh, come back healthy, come back stronger," Osemele said. "That's always going to be good. Getting the bye week is always necessary for someone who's trying to recover."