The offseason was not kind to the Ravens in fact it was downright brutal! Zach Orr the team’s leading tackler in 2016 announced his retirement at age 24 due to a spinal condition, he’s since decided to resume his career but it won’t be in Baltimore.
Cornerback Tavon Young who had a terrific rookie season will miss his entire second season after tearing his ACL during organized team activities.
Dennis Pitta was the team’s leading receiver with 86 catches in 2016 but he was released after he suffered a serious hip injury during OTA’s that likely will end his career.
More tight end trouble when Darren Waller was suspended for at least one year without pay for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse.
Kenneth Dixon expected to be a front line running back was suspended 4 games for violating the NFL’s PED policy, then came word that he’d miss several weeks with a knee injury followed by news the knee injury would cost him the entire season.
Thursday all that was in the rearview mirror as the Ravens opened training camp with their first full squad workout of the ’17 season, a new beginning, a fresh start for a team that has missed the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years.
Jeremy Maclin and Danny Woodhead added to the offense, a beefed up secondary that’s been suspect for the past few years. Plenty to be optimistic about for fans and the team but then came three breaking and distracting stories.
Urschel Giving Up Football
Starting center candidate John Urschel was up bright and early on the first day of camp, not because he couldn’t wait to get started, no he called John Harbaugh at 6:22 am to tell his head coach he was finished before he started.
Urschel only 26 decided to retire only two days after a medical study indicated that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was found in nearly 99 percent of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to research. Urschel has a well-developed brain he’s pursuing his doctorate in applied mathematics at MIT.
Urschel’s retirement isn’t a Ravens game changer he had a shot to start at center if not he would have provided veteran depth in the interior O-line, the bigger story might be the message this sends when perhaps the most intelligent player in the league gets out at 26 fearing brain injury.
Flacco Missing Camp?
Flacco’s back is out of whack. John Harbaugh says his quarterback will miss one week of practice but according to Flacco’s back specialist he should be fine after that. Harbaugh says “that’s what we’re hoping and praying for.” Other reports say he could be out 3-6 weeks.
Kaepernick And The Harbaughs
Kap headed to Ravens? With Flacco sidelined maybe Harbaugh was anticipating the question but without getting it from reporters he offered that the Ravens might consider adding Colin Kaepernick to their roster. Harbaugh says he spoke to Kaepernick several times this offseason and says the Ravens will add an arm for training camp.
Harbaugh added “But he’s not an arm, obviously. He’s an accomplished football player. You always like having good football players.” Kaepernick was the center of controversy last season for kneeling during the national anthem. He played his best football under John’s brother Jim Harbaugh with the 49ers.
Why the interest in Kap now, he’s been available for hire the entire offseason. Is Flacco’s injury a long-term concern, so many questions on the first day of a long season?