Veterans and starters got the afternoon off Monday after a brief walkthrough, a move Ravens coach John Harbaugh said had nothing to do with the number of injuries his team left Philadelphia with.
But as top stars across the league go down with season-ending injuries and the Ravens deal with losses major and minor on their own roster, Harbaugh contemplated what coaches can do the prevent such things before the games start to matter.
“If there was something that you could do, as far as I’m talking about from a head coach to approach his practice and game, if there was something you could do, if there was some science that told us this would help with injuries … you would do it,” Harbaugh said.
“Sometimes, guys get hurt out here in half-speed drills like we’ve seen before. "Sometimes, they get hurt full-speed in games. It’s just so unpredictable with the injuries.”
The Ravens lost a pair of reserve tackles — James Hurst (concussion) and De’Ondre Wesley (knee) — plus second-string running back Lorenzo Taliaferro in Saturday’s 40-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The offensive line has been hit particularly hard, but the team has been without first-round NFL draft pick Breshad Perriman (knee) for all but the first day of training camp lost defensive end Brent Urban and Matt Elam with torn biceps, and have had countless other players miss time with minor injuries.
As such, the low-participation day Monday, which Harbaugh said is an annual occurrence, came at a good time.
It’s difficult to determine who missed practice because of injury and who was dismissed before the full-contact practice started for the young players and those on the roster bubble.
Thirty-three players on the team’s 90-man training camp roster were counted as absent during the portion of practice open to the media. The Ravens had 16 players who did not play in Saturday’s game, and four of those players were back on the field Monday.
The list of veterans who had the day off was a who’s-who of Ravens stars, including quarterback Joe Flacco, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., running back Justin Forsett, guard Marshal Yanda, and outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.
“This was a practice for young guys, guys we felt needed reps, guys who are fighting to make the team — and a special teams emphasis practice,” Harbaugh said. “That’s where we had an emphasis today, a good tough practice in pads and they did a good job with it.”
Wagner had a leg issue crop up on Wednesday, the first of three joint practices with the Eagles, and missed two days of practice plus the game Saturday. Reid missed all of last week with back spasms.
Six offensive linemen who did not dress for the game, then had three more tackles suffer injuries of varying severity. Guard John Urschel was back at practice Monday after missing the game as he still deals with a concussion, but he’s practiced since last Wednesday and could fully participate soon.