I’ve written multiple articles on how injuries destroyed the Ravens’ season last year. Looking forward, the question will be how can these players bounce back from the injuries that derailed the team in 2015.
Terrell Suggs is rumored to be the closest major injury to returning at this point. Harbaugh is apparently the only reason Suggs hasn’t seen the field to this point. But, is he someone who is going to make a big difference for the Ravens? Suggs appeared in 1 game last year and didn’t actually register any stats. Fans may hope that he returns to form, much like he did after 2012 when Suggs returned with 16 games, 10 sacks, and 80 combined tackles. Fans should be hopeful based on those numbers, but Suggs may be at a point in his career where he is best served in a rotational game plan, much like Dwight Freeny last year.
Suggs’ running mate was able to play significantly more time in 2015, but still wasn’t at his prime. He made it through the season, playing in all 16 games, but finished with a total of only 48 tackles and 6 sacks. That’s a far cry from Dumervil’s 17 sacks in 2014. Pro Football Focus grades Dumervil as the #39 “edge defender” out of 110 eligible players. Somehow, Dumervil still managed an 82.9 grade in rushing, but struggled in all other aspects of the game. Still, finishing as the 18th best pass rusher among isn’t too bad. The Ravens are expecting Dumevril to play 16 games this year, but it may be the perfect timing for Dumervil and Suggs to split snaps.
Steve Smith Sr.
Smith is a Hall of Fame player who is at the end of his career. His plan was to retire at the end of last season, but he couldn’t stomach leaving his career with an injury that cost him his final 8 games. Statistically, Smith graded out as an elite WR before his injury. According to PFF, he was the 5th best overall receiver, thanks in part to his overall receiving grade. Lesser known is that Smith was also a top 5 run-blocking receiver last season. Statistically, things don’t look great for Smith.
A study on players with rupture Achilles tendons showed that (from 97-02) there were 31 players who ruptured the tendon. Of those 31, only21 returned, and it took about 11 months for players to return. Considering the average player in this study was 29 years old, Smith could struggle given he’s already 37. Smith also expects to be ready for week 1 which would be about 9 months. Being at such an advanced age, coming from a “double rupture”, and trying to return in less time doesn’t add up to success. But Steve Smith has been a machine throughout his career. He was told he couldn’t be an NFL WR because of his size- maybe this is just another opportunity to prove the world wrong. Only time will tell.
Perriman is the young WR who the Ravens hoped could take the league by storm when they drafted him with their first-round pick in 2014. They saw a big-bodied player who could make his way down field with his speed to create big plays. Sadly, during the 2015 training camp, Perriman partially tore his PCL and was out for the season. When news broke that Perriman may have torn his ACL in June, the Ravens community was terrified. Fortunately, Perriman was able to get a stem-cell injection, and may be avoiding surgery. The stem cell injection is a fairly new way to handle ACL injuries, so it’s somewhat unprecedented. As such, the Ravens are claiming that Perriman should be ready for week 1, but no one can truly be sure. So, for now, the Ravens wait and hope for the best as they test new waters. What you can expect is that Perriman is going to be wearing a special brace that should help stabilize his knee.
The true fan-favorite injury return that everyone is looking forward to is Dennis Pitta. Many have forgotten the name, but Ravens’ fans love Pitta. Pitta played 4 games in 2013 before missing time with an injury. He played 3 games before missing the rest of the season with a hip injury. Then, he missed all of 2015 with another hip injury.
Those are not comforting stats if you’re expecting to see much from Pitta this season. The hope is that he’ll be healthy enough to stay on the field, but you can’t be sure. The saving grace in Baltimore is that they don’t need Pitta to return to form. They’ve already got Ben Watson, Maxx Williams and Crockett Gilmore ready to catch passes.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, Joe Flacco is trying to return from an ACL tear. Flacco is the one player who should return to form. A number of studies have been completed, in an attempt to analyze how ACL tears impact a player’s career. For Quarterbacks, there is no statistical regression after an ACL tear. What’s more, Flacco isn’t a mobile quarterback. As such, a knee injury shouldn’t create a significant issue given that his game isn’t dependent on agility. Flacco will have to get over the fear of being hit. I believe his biggest hurdle will be psychological. If he can manage to handle that, he should have a great season.
It should be an interesting season for the Ravens in 2016. Injuries are already a significant role in what fans can expect from the Ravens. What do you think of all of these players trying to return?