Injuries “smashed” the Ravens in 2021, coach John Harbaugh said Monday. But in his review of an injury-plagued season, Harbaugh conceded that he could control only so much.
“Injuries happen to every team,” he said at his season-ending news conference, “and I think if you look at it, it is a little cyclical.”
Harbaugh said he’s “hopeful” the Ravens will have better luck in 2022. At quarterback, the early returns are already promising. Lamar Jackson, who missed the Ravens’ final four games with a bone bruise in his right ankle, told Harbaugh on Saturday that it was “really getting better” and that he was confident he’d be healthy enough to resume workouts by mid-February.
Jackson’s slow in-season recovery was partly due to the bone bruise’s location, Harbaugh said, which limited blood flow and circulation. He required a walking boot longer than expected and was limping even toward the end of the season, one month after he was carted off the field in a Dec. 12 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“Lamar felt like he was going to be back,” Harbaugh said. “First week, he thought he had a chance. Second week, he assured me. He said, ‘I’ll be back. I’ll be back.’ He worked really hard at getting back. But it just didn’t really heal.”
Elsewhere on offense, Harbaugh said he’s “confident and excited” that left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who missed all but one game in 2021 after undergoing his second season-ending ankle surgery, and tight end Nick Boyle, whose recovery from knee surgery limited him to just five games, should be “full speed” in 2022.
Harbaugh said their rehabilitations last year did not go as planned. Both Stanley, an All-Pro in 2019, and Boyle, one of the NFL’s best blocking tight ends, were expected to be ready for the start of the season. But Stanley struggled in Week 1, and Boyle didn’t debut until Week 11.
Harbaugh also indicated that running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, both of whom missed the season with torn ACLs, were on track to play in 2022.
“I’m not in the rehabs every day,” Harbaugh said. “I’m like you guys. I’m hopeful. I’m down there encouraging them. I’m talking to them, and so far, so good.”
On defense, Harbaugh said the Ravens’ offseason is starting in a “good place” with the return of injured cornerbacks Marcus Peters (torn ACL) and Marlon Humphrey (torn pectoral muscle). Peters suffered the season-ending injury just days before the season started, while Humphrey was hurt in Week 13. The Ravens, who also lost starting safety DeShon Elliott to a season-ending bicep and pectoral injury, finished last in the NFL in passing yards allowed (a franchise-worst 278.9 per game).
Defensive end Derek Wolfe, who missed all of last season with back and hip injuries, underwent offseason surgery on his hip labrum, Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how that goes,” he said, “and that’s another one that’s recoverable from.”
Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, meanwhile, recently had surgery to repair the Achilles tendon he tore in the Ravens’ regular-season finale. Harbaugh said he expects Bowser, who led the team with a career-high seven sacks, to return by the start of next season, and possibly by training camp.
“That’s my prediction,” he said. “That’s my timeline. So I’m going to stick with that.”