Willie Henry’s season came to a quick and sudden end after the Ravens defensive tackle was placed on injured reserve Tuesday because of a back injury, coach John Harbaugh said.
“He had a herniated disk issue that came up in the game, and we didn’t know about it until the next day when he got it checked out and got the MRI — actually, I think, Tuesday morning,” he said before Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “So that’s how that happened.”
Henry, a 2016 fourth-round pick who had had 33 tackles and 3½ sacks in 14 games last season, including three starts, sat out the first month of the regular season while recovering from surgery to address an umbilical hernia. He played in the past three games, recording three tackles and one sack.
In Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Henry had only one tackle in 20 snaps, his fewest of the season. After the game, he was seen walking slowly and grimacing in pain.
Nose tackle Michael Pierce said the defense will miss Henry’s ability to create an inside rush.
“It’s going to fall on our shoulders to get more pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “We’re going to have to take up some of the slack he had in those dime packages and stuff like that. We’ve got our work cut out for us, and we’ve got to get to the quarterback.”
Eight players absent from practice
The Ravens opened their first day of practice for Sunday’s game at the Carolina Panthers without eight players, including seven starters.
The seven starters were cornerbacks Brandon Carr (knee), Marlon Humphrey (thigh) and Jimmy Smith (groin), wide receivers John Brown (not injury related) and Michael Crabtree (not injury related), right tackle James Hurst (back) and free safety Eric Weddle (not injury related). Rookie Bradley Bozeman, who made his first NFL start at left guard Sunday against the Saints, also did not participate in Wednesday’s session.
Usual starting left guard Alex Lewis returned to practice for the first time since suffering a pinched nerve in his neck in the fourth quarter of a 21-0 victory at the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 14. He was limited, as were defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (hamstring) and rookie cornerback Anthony Averett (hamstring).
Four Carolina starters in defensive ends Mario Addison (back) and Julius Peppers (not injury related), free safety Mike Adams (not injury related) and wide receiver and Maryland graduate Torrey Smith (knee) did not participate in Wednesday’s session.
Two more starters in quarterback Cam Newton (right throwing shoulder) and tight end Greg Olsen (foot) were limited.
Saturday’s college football game between No. 10 Towson and No. 21 Delaware, a key tilt between Colonial Athletic Association rivals, would seem to present quarterback Joe Flacco with the difficult choice of backing his brother Tom, the redshirt junior quarterback for the Tigers, or his alma mater. The elder Flacco, however, said he would root for “my brother.” Asked if it was an easy choice, Flacco replied, “Yes.”
» Sunday’s game will feature two defensive players with the longest active tenure in the NFL in outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers. Suggs, whose 220 all-time games trail Peppers by 36 games, said he has always admired Peppers. “He came out of North Carolina and was a two-sport player,” he said, referring to Peppers’ careers with the football and basketball teams. “I wasn’t fortunate to have that kind of ability to play two sports in college. He’s the active sacks leader. So definitely, when he’s on the field, I’m going to be watching him play. I definitely admire him. He’s a great player, and he’s one of those rare forms you don’t get to see often in this league.”
» The Ravens signed guard Kofi Amichia to the practice squad Wednesday. The Green Bay Packers’ sixth-round draft pick in 2017 fills the vacancy created when guard Jermaine Eluemunor was promoted to the active roster Tuesday.