Heading into this season, the Ravens gambled on aging veterans being able to pull through another year. It's clear during this three-game losing streak that they are losing that battle.

Few people beat Father Time, especially in the NFL, which is a young man's league. As the Ravens' losing streak has increased, so too have injuries to big-name veterans who were expected to help carry the team in 2016.


Injuries are part of the game and they happen to every team, but some of these are self-inflicted. Gone already is tight end Ben Watson, 35, who went down in the preseason with a torn Achilles.

Star receiver Steve Smith, 37, has missed a game and a half with an ankle injury and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, 32, has played in just two games this season after offseason foot surgery.

And then came news on Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. The 34-year-old will probably miss at least a game and be hampered for the rest of the season with torn left biceps.

A year ago, there was some compassion for the Ravens because they had so many injuries. But there will be no sympathy this season. They had a chance to sever ties with some of these players but instead took the chance these players could recover and stay healthy.

In some cases, they were obligated because of contracts. In others, general manager Ozzie Newsome wanted to be cheap or loyal. Regardless, the Ravens are paying for it because the replacements either aren't ready or aren't good enough.

When Watson went down, the Ravens acted as if they were cursed because it was the third player (Suggs and Smith were the other two) to have suffered that specific injury within a year. But they have something else in common.

By NFL standards, they are old. When athletes hit 30, the chances of them tearing an Achilles increases. According to the National Football League Players Association, the average career of an NFL player last 3.3 years, meaning Smith, Suggs, Watson, Dumervil and return specialist Devin Hester Sr., who turns 34 next month, have been blessed by the football gods.

Even quarterback Joe Flacco, in his ninth season, and guard Marshal Yanda, in his 10th, have beat the odds. But with each year, each game and each snap, the body wears down and becomes more susceptible to injuries.

Players who were once Pro Bowl-caliber have become less dominant.

Smith can play at a high level and still is a playmaker, but he can't be counted on to play full time.

Suggs leads the team in sacks, but he is basically just a run stopper at this point of his career, playing on one leg and with one arm. Dumervil has given the team as much as Watson and Hester, which is to say practically nothing. He can't even practice, much less play.

Even the once-invincible Flacco is starting to slow down.

The most curious injury is the shoulder problem suffered by Yanda. He has an extremely high tolerance for pain, so if he misses a second straight game Sunday there is serious cause for concern.

An even worse problem for the Ravens is that they can't duplicate the production because of the absences. Young players such as receivers Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman and outside linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Kamalei Correa aren't ready.


Reserve offensive linemen James Hurst and Ryan Jensen aren't good enough. Then there's a veteran in safety Lardarius Webb, in his eighth year, who plays hard but no longer has the skill or speed to be a playmaker.

It's clear the Ravens are going to have to part ways with some of these veterans at the end of the season. In a way, it's remarkable they are still a competitive team. The Ravens don't need a total makeover, but Newsome might want to re-evaluate some of his college scouts to draft better talent.

Every team likes to have seasoned veterans because of the leadership they can provide, especially for a team which is a serious contender. But in those cases, it is usually adding one or two.

With the Ravens, they have to get rid of four or five.

Their gamble isn't paying off.