The Baltimore Ravens were without question one of the most banged up teams in the league a year ago, and in some cases they are continuing to feel the repercussions. Despite the fact that he played in every game last season, starting outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said yesterday that he is not going to be able to play in the team’s season opener.
The cause for this was what he described as a minor setback after he was forced to undergo surgery on his foot after the 2015 season, during which he played through injury, which clearly impacted his performance on the field.
Dumervil, now 32, missed all of the offseason program right through training camp before coming off the Physically Unable to Perform List, back on August 22, but he only practiced for a few days before he was back on the sidelines.
The Pro Bowler did say that he believes he is now past whatever was the cause of the setback that he experienced in his foot during his return to practice, but he also said that he was not ready to make any sort of declarations about his recovery and when he would expect to be able to return.
“I don’t want to start shooting numbers and weeks”, he said, adding, “I would just say we’re working really hard. I’m just doing my very best to get out there as soon as I can. I don’t know when the time can be. It could be next week, it could be the following week. I don’t know”.
Veteran linebacker Albert McClellan is likely to start opposite Terrell Suggs, who himself missed very nearly the entirety of the 2015 season after he went down in the opener due to a torn Achilles that saw him begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform List as well.
A former undrafted free agent, McClellan actually started 11 games his second season in 2012, though he had just one sack that season. it is expected that second-year Za’Darius Smith, a former fourth-round draft pick, will rotate in with McClellan, particularly for obvious pass-rushing situations.
Smith recorded 5.5 sacks during his rookie season while rotating in place of Suggs with former Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw. Smith could see he role expand generally this season regardless of whether or not the starters are ailing with some injury or another.
The Ravens’ defense has struggled in recent years when they have been unable to generate a substantial pass rush, and that was certainly the case last season without Suggs and with an ailing Dumervil. How much more the two aging veterans might have left in the tank, especially coming off injuries, remains to be seen.