I could bore you by writing about the fact that the Baltimore Ravens won their 19th consecutive preseason game last night, tying a record previously held by Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. I’m not going to do that, because I think we all can agree that it’s not very meaningful.
While the Ravens did win the game, they didn’t come out unscathed. Former Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker L.J. Fort suffered a knee injury during the contest and was not able to continue. The Ravens are bracing for the bad news, which should come today.
“I haven’t heard a final thing yet; I have to say unfortunately it does not look good from what I was told during the game”, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh informed reporters after the game. “I think it got stuck in that Astroturf out there unfortunately. We’ll get final word probably tomorrow with an MRI”.
A former undrafted free agent all the way back in 2012, Fort has been around the block, logging in-game time with five teams, starting with the Cleveland Browns as a rookie. His most stable tenure came with the Steelers, between 2015 and 2018, but they did not pursue him as he finally hit unrestricted free agency.
He originally signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but was release after just four games (in no small part as a move to help the Eagles recoup a compensatory draft pick, a loophole that was fortunately since closed, and which subsequently prompted the Steelers to Donte Moncrief to preserve the third-round pick they were due to receive for the loss of Le’Veon Bell).
He was quickly scooped up by the Ravens, and has spent the past year and a half there, where he had become a fixture. While he did start 16 games over that period, he was more of a rotational player, but had also become a leader.
He was due to serve as the next man up this year behind a pair of second-round linebackers, including first-round pick Patrick Queen, with Malik Harrison also stepping into a full-time starting role in 2021. But assuming that his knee injury is season-ending, it will certainly be a blow to their depth.
“L.J.’s been playing great, practicing great, he’s been leading our guys”, Harbaugh said of the 31-year-old veteran. “He’s in the weight room every morning at 5:30. It’s going to be an unfortunate injury for him if that’s what it turns out to be”.
Chris Board will be the Ravens’ next man up now, originally undrafted in 2018. He has spent every game of his career on the 53-man roster, and started two games last season, logging 264 of his career 342 defensive snaps in 2020. Kristian Welch and Otaro Alaka will compete for the number four spot.