At training camp, Ravens second-year defensive end Brent Urban appeared to be gaining confidence by the day. He was knocking down passes and applying consistent pressure on the quarterback in practice.
But for the second straight year, Urban faces surgery, a lengthy rehabilitation process and the possibility of missing an entire season. The Ravens, meanwhile, will have to make do without another potential contributor on defense.
Urban tore his biceps muscle when his arm got extended during a minimal-contact drill in practice Thursday. An MRI confirmed the injury, the recovery from which typically takes 12 to 14 weeks, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
"He's a guy that I was really counting on," said Harbaugh, who confirmed that Urban will have surgery to repair the tear soon. "I thought he would really shine. I still think he will. It's just one of those things. He's had four straight years of serious injuries. That's been a bugaboo for him that he's going to have to overcome. But knowing this guy, he's going to fight like crazy to do it."
The Ravens, who already lost safety Matt Elam to a likely season-ending torn biceps this summer, will have to decide whether to put Urban on season-ending injured reserve or on IR/designated to return. The latter, which the Ravens have used in the past for players such as Ray Lewis, Dennis Pitta and Asa Jackson, would mean that Urban would have to sit out the first eight weeks of the regular season before he's eligible to return.
Elam is also a candidate for the return designation; the team can use it on only one player.
Urban's injury is a tough break for a player who has had trouble staying on the field. As a senior at Virginia, Urban started just eight games because of an ankle injury, which required surgery after the season. The Ravens selected the Ontario, Canada-born defensive end in the fourth round in 2014, but he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during training camp last July. He also tore the ACL in his left knee in college.
"In terms of the long picture of his career, that's going to have to be the thing," Harbaugh said. "He's going to have to find a way to stay healthy, and I believe he will."
Urban was listed as the third defensive end on the Ravens' depth chart, behind veterans Chris Canty and Lawrence Guy. But Urban's size — 6 feet 7 and 295 pounds — and talent had team officials believing he was ready to make a significant impact in 2015. Now Urban might need to wait until 2016, and the Ravens will have to find another defensive end to fill his spot.
"I think we're really deep in the 'D' line. I like the guys that we have," Harbaugh said. "It's a deep group, and I'm real confident that those guys will step up."
On his Twitter account, Urban vowed to channel his frustration into training and return to the field sooner than expected.
"I appreciate the support & hate," he wrote. "I will channel my frustration into training & again come back as if I never got injured sooner than u think."
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Urban suffered a torn pectoral muscle.