The Baltimore Ravens have among the most talented and accomplished secondaries from the top of the roster all the way down throughout the NFL. They looked to get even better this offseason when they went out in free agency and replaced free safety Eric Weddle, a Pro Bowler himself, with Earl Thomas, regarded as one of the very top players at his position in this era.
In spite of the depth that they have at cornerback, however, they also make sure to value and to reward their players, and earlier this offseason, they wanted to assure that they keep fourth-year nickel cornerback Tavon Young around, signing him to a lucrative contract extension that made him the highest-paid slot defender in the NFL.
But Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh revealed last night following the team’s preseason victory that Young, who did not participate in the game, “has a more serious issue than we thought”. He originally suffered a neck injury in practice over the weekend, though he practiced most recently on Sunday in pads, before sitting out the final two practices of training camp.
“He has a neck issue. It’s a disk issue”, Harbaugh said. “That’s a serious injury. He could be out for the remainder of the season. We’ll know soon. But it doesn’t look good for Tavon”.
Young was a fourth-round draft pick in 2016, but quickly emerged as a contributor, soon winning the nickel role, but later also showed to be the second-best healthy cornerback on the team, so he also played on the outside when they were in their base defense.
He was primed for a big season in 2017 as their nickel defender, but he suffered a torn ACL during the offseason and missed the entirety of his second year. Now he looks likely to miss another entire season, this time with a potentially more serious issue.
While Harbaugh said that there was an “outside chance” that he could heal from the injury without surgery, he added, “I think in his best interest — and that’s always the first consideration — is his long-term well-being. If he gets the procedure done, he’ll be fine and good to go. That’s probably the best thing to do”.
One thing that the Ravens deserve credit for is having among the most thorough and conservative medical teams in the NFL. I don’t believe anybody in the league fails players on their physicals more frequently. And their conditioning test ahead of training camp, made no doubt in conjunction with the training staff, is notoriously one of the most difficult as well.
With Young likely to miss the season, the two players most likely to replace him are Brandon Carr, who has historically played on the outside but has been used in the slot in this circumstance, and Cyrus Jones, a former New England Patriots draft pick. At the very least, he appears sure to make the roster now following his teammate’s misfortune.