Ravens slot cornerback Tavon Young could miss the entire season with a neck injury, coach John Harbaugh said after the Ravens’ 26-13 preseason victory Thursday night over the visiting Green Bay Packers.
“Tavon has a more serious issue than we thought,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got a neck issue. Doctors can explain it, but it’s a disk issue, so that’s a serious injury. He could be out for the remainder of the season. We’ll know soon, but it doesn’t look good for Tavon.”
Harbaugh said there’s an “outside chance” that Young’s neck will heal and he’ll be able to return this season, but “we’re not recommending that right now, in his best interest.”
Young, a 2016 fourth-round draft pick out of Temple, signed a three-year contract extension in February worth $25.8 million, including $13 million guaranteed. It was the biggest-ever deal for a slot corner at the time, but has since been surpassed.
“I’m good and blessed,” Young, who hurt his neck over the weekend in practice, tweeted Friday. “Minor setback but don’t rule me out yet.”
Cyrus Jones started at slot corner Thursday and returned an interception for a touchdown in the Ravens’ preseason opener last week. The Gilman product entered training camp on the roster bubble but impressed over two-plus weeks of practices. Now, even with an open competition at returner still ongoing, Jones seems likely to make the season-opening 53-man roster.
“He has looked good,” Harbaugh said of Jones, who was also the deep returner for the first kickoff Thursday and started at punt returner for much of last season. “That’s the thing that makes us feel good about it. Cyrus has looked good, and we have other guys we work in there. All of our corners end up — not all of them, but most of them play nickel, except the two starters [Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey]. Brandon Carr plays the nickel quite a bit. We move safeties down in there quite a bit, with different personnel groups.
"We would rather have Tavon than not have him, but we are blessed at that position with some depth.”
The injury represents another setback for Young, who missed the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL and was bothered by a groin injury for most of last season. He underwent surgery in January on a sports hernia that caused him to miss the Ravens’ playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Safety Tony Jefferson said he was unaware of the extent of Young’s neck injury but expressed confidence in the secondary.
“That points back to the next-man-up mentality," he said. "But obviously, especially for Tavon, just knowing him, that’s probably tough on him.”