As if the Ravens needed more bad news for a unit that has struggled mightily all season, they were dealt another blow today when word from the Castle came down that starting left guard Kelechi Osemele will likely miss the rest of the season with a back injury.
Confirmed this morning by Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, the left guard will have season-ending back surgery, an injury that has plagued him since late last season.
He was a vital cog in the Ravens offensive fortunes last season, starting all 16 games at right tackle. This season, Kelechi moved back to his natural position at left guard, starting seven games for Baltimore and struggled at times, likely attributed to the back injury. He was forced from action against the Miami Dolphins on October 6th with what the team called “back spasms” and replaced by A.Q. Shipley who now takes over starting duties.
This is a significant loss for a line that has dealt with the growing pains of center Gino Gradkowski, all five starters struggling at some point this season, an in-season trade to get left tackle Eugene Monroe (first time in team history) and a trade of their former starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
There was a reason the Ravens were concerned about offensive line depth, so having a player like Shipley, who they traded for in the off-season from Indianapolis, will try to lessen the blow. Shipley filled in for Osemele in the Dolphins game and held his own, but is more of a center by trade.
Still, the Ravens will turn to him to help gain some consistency back on the offensive line. Shipley himself feels confident that he can get the job done.
“I feel very comfortable [at center] since the Miami game, I’ve been practicing strictly pretty much guard. Center is my natural position, I feel comfortable at that, so I’ve been pushing guard. I feel pretty good.”
John Harbaugh himself is stressing that having a healthy Shipley in the mix will do good things for the Ravens moving forward.
“We’ll actually be better there with a healthier player,” Harbaugh said. “You want your guys at 100 percent, so A.Q. has played well, he’s played very well when he’s been in there. He’s a football player. He’s always played well whenever he’s played.”