The Ravens’ nightmare start to training camp continued Saturday when the team learned that two players expected to play key roles in 2017 will be sidelined for an extended period.
Tight end Crockett Gillmore and cornerback Maurice Canady are dealing with potentially significant knee injuries sustained during Friday’s practice, sources said. The Ravens are still determining the severity of the injuries, a process that has become all too familiar over the past couple of months.
The Ravens haven’t commented on either injury.
Gillmore could become the third tight end in less than two months that the Ravens would lose, following Dennis Pitta’s hip fracture and Darren Waller’s suspension.
Canady had been a standout throughout the offseason workouts and was the favorite to be the team’s slot cornerback after Tavon Young’s season-ending knee injury in June. Now, Canady will miss time as well.
Gillmore, who has struggled mightily to stay healthy after he became one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets early in the 2015 season, immediately went down to the ground after catching a pass late in Friday’s practice. He hobbled off the field and spiked his helmet when he reached the sideline. A free agent after this season, Gillmore has missed 15 games over the past two seasons.
The circumstance behind Canady’s knee injury is less clear. Reporters didn’t notice him going down at any point during Friday’s practice. Canady, a sixth-round draft pick in 2016, played in only four games as a rookie after being placed on injured reserve in early October because of a hamstring injury.
Both injuries continue a deflating and dubious stretch for the Ravens, whose depth has already gotten stretched significantly and training camp isn’t a week old yet. They’ve already lost five players for the year within the past two months because of either injury, suspension or retirement, and that does not include Gillmore, Canady or Flacco, who reported to the team facility Wednesday with a back injury that will sideline him for at least a week.
Young, the team’s top slot cornerback, tore the ACL in his left knee during an organized team activity on June 1, ending his season. Pitta, the team leader in receptions last season, fractured his hip for the third time during an OTA on June 2. He was released the following week and his career is likely over. On June 30, the Ravens learned that Waller was suspended for at least the 2017 season after he violated the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Expected to eventually challenge Terrance West for the starting running back job, Kenneth Dixon hurt his left knee while working out at home and needed season-ending surgery this past Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus. John Urschel, competing for the starting center job, informed the team before Thursday’s first training camp practice that he is retiring.
If healthy, Gillmore is arguably the Ravens’ best two-way tight end. He figured to play a major blocking role with Nick Boyle in two tight end sets. He also has solid hands and had become a dependable red-zone target with five touchdown receptions over the past two seasons. With him sidelined, the Ravens will have to depend even more on Boyle; Benjamin Watson, who is coming off Achilles surgery; Maxx Williams, who is working his way back from a rare knee surgery; and Ryan Malleck.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that his team was looking to add another tight end and that was before Gillmore went down.
Cornerback was one of the Ravens’ deepest positions, but the loss of Young and Canady will surely challenge that depth. Safety Lardarius Webb and veteran Brandon Boykin now become the favorites for the nickel corner role if Canady is out for an extended period.