Wager against Father Time is a losing one
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preseason with a torn Achilles tendon.
Star receiver Steve Smith Sr., 37, has missed a game and a half with an ankle injury, and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, 32, has played in just two games this season after offseason foot surgery.
And then came the news about Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. The 34-year-old will probably miss at least a game and be hampered for the rest of the season with torn left bicep.
A year ago, there was some compassion for the Ravens because they had so many injuries. But there will be no sympathy this season. They had a chance to sever ties with some of these players but took the chance that these players could recover and stay healthy.
In some cases, they were obligated because of contracts. In others, general manager Ozzie Newsome wanted to be cheap or loyal. Regardless, the Ravens are paying for it because the replacements either aren’t ready or aren’t good enough.
When Watson went down, the Ravens acted as if they were cursed because it was the third player (Suggs and Smith were the other two) to have suffered that specific injury within a year. But they have something else in common.
By NFL standards, they are old. When athletes hit 30, the chances of their tearing an Achilles increases. According to the National Football League Players Association, the average career of an NFL player lasts 3.3 years, meaning Smith, Suggs, Watson, Dumervil and return specialist Devin Hester Sr., who turns 34 next month, have been blessed by the football gods.
Quarterback Joe Flacco, in his ninth season, and guard Marshal Yanda, in his 10th, have also beaten the odds. But with each year, each game and each snap, the body wears down and becomes more susceptible to injuries.
Players who were once Pro Bowlcaliber have become less dominant.
Smith can play at a high level and still is a playmaker, but he can’t be counted on to play full time.
Suggs leads the team in sacks, but he is basically just a run stopper now, effectively playing on one leg and with one arm. Dumervil has given the team as much as Watson and Hester, which is to say practically nothing. He can’t even practice, much less play.
Even the once-invincible Flacco is starting to slow down.
The most curious injury is the shoulder problem suffered by Yanda. He has an extremely high tolerance for pain, so if he misses a second straight game Sunday there is serious cause for concern.
An even worse problem for the Ravens is that they can’t duplicate the production lost because of the absences. Young players such as receivers Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman and outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Kamalei Correa aren’t ready.
Reserve offensive linemen James Hurst and Ryan Jensen aren’t good enough. Veteran safety Lardarius Webb, in his eighth year, plays hard but no longer has the skill or speed to be a playmaker.
It’s clear the Ravens are going to have to part ways with some of these veterans at the end of the season. In a way, it’s remarkable they are still a competitive team. The Ravens don’t need a total makeover, but Newsome might want to re-evaluate the way some of his college scouts choose talent.
Every team likes to have seasoned veterans because of the leadership they can provide, especially for a serious contender. But in those cases, it is usually adding one or two.
The Ravens have to get rid of four or five.
Their gamble isn’t paying off.
The Ravens announced Monday that 34-year-old outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has a torn left bicep. The injury could hamper him for the rest of the season.