When the Baltimore Ravens played the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night last, they didn’t simply lose the game. They also lost, at least for a short period of time, their most important player on the defensive side of the ball: perennial Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.
The 2014 first-round draft pick, taken soon after the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Ryan Shazier, became the heart and soul of the Ravens’ defense in the post-Ray Lewis era. He has mad the Pro Bowl in three of his four seasons to date, and was also second-team All-Pro in each of those three seasons.
Mosley was coming off the best season of his career, registering 132 tackles to go along with a sack, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles. He had five tackles in the Ravens’ season-opener this year before suffering an early injury in the Bengals game. Cincinnati scored touchdowns on the next four drives.
For now, Head Coach John Harbaugh is keeping Mosley’s injury under wraps as to exactly where and how severely he suffered a bone bruise, which would give clearer indications as to how much time he might be expected to miss, if any.
He told reporters that the injury is “just what was reported. It’s a bone bruise. That’s good news it wasn’t a structural issue. We’ll just see how that thing comes along and keep our fingers crossed”.
When he went down, the Ravens didn’t just lose their best defender, they also lost their defensive mouthpiece, as Mosley called out the plays for the unit. While he is gone, that duty will fall to veteran safety Eric Weddle, who is entering his third season with the team.
Weddle, an All-Pro, had a long career in San Diego, during which he often had the play-calling helmet as a safety, so it’s not an unfamiliar role to him. But replacing Mosley’s play on the field will be a bigger obstacle.
The did bring back Albert McClellan this week, a veteran of their defense who spent many years there and has had some starting experience. Outside of him, and starting Patrick Onwuasor, they only have rookies Kenny Young and Chris Board as candidates.
I don’t think the Steelers would have much to complain about if they were to see McClellan rather than Mosley when they host the Ravens in two weeks. He recorded 22 tackles in Baltimore’s two games against them last season. In eight games, he has a total of 74 tackles and an interception.