AFC North Injuries: Bengals, Ravens each lose key defender for year
The Cleveland Browns have been dealing with a lot of injuries this offseason. While many have been day-to-day or week-to-week types, the team did lose tight end Stephen Carlson and linebacker Jacob Phillips for the season, likely, due to injuries over the last week.
With the way the team is approaching training camp and preseason so far, they have been able to avoid injuries to key starters by limiting their involvement in certain activities. That will continue today in the preseason game against the New York Giants as most starters and key players will not be on the field.
Cleveland is not the only AFC North team battling injuries. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals each just lost a key defender for the season, most likely.
Bengals - DE Joseph Ossai
While the Bengals are not expected to be much of a challenge to the Browns in 2021, they made things difficult for the team in 2020. With Joe Burrow returning from injury and some additional talent brought in, Cincinnati hopes they are moving in the right direction. Then comes news that rookie, third-round pick, Joseph Ossai will, likely, miss the season with a meniscus injury:
It’s a brutal blow for the Bengals, as Ossai — a third-round rookie — was a breakout star of camp and in that preseason game. The team will instead hope that rookie Cam Sample and a host of other names can replace some of the production in the pass-rush.
Ossai looked very good in the Bengals first preseason game including sacking Tom Brady. Tough blow for a young player on a young team.
Ravens - LB L.J. Fort
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Somehow the Ravens continue to churn out good defenses despite losing talent, seemingly, year after year. Going into 2021, Baltimore had some key defenders leave in free agency including Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon. The team hoped that the rest of the defense could help stabilize that side of the ball despite the departures. Today comes news that former Browns linebacker L.J. Fort, who bounced around the league including stops at every AFC North team, could miss the year due to an ACL injury:
Had L.J. Fort in the "close to a lock" department. Now, the Ravens fear he has a season-ending ACL injury, a tough blow for a versatile and valuable player. His injury does open door for another ILB (Kristian Welch?) or an outside addition https://t.co/p5rCebSeOM
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) August 22, 2021
Fort's loss could be bigger than any statistical measure could place on his play:
If Fort is out for an extended amount of time, Baltimore would lose a great contributor and a leader, which would be a big blow to the team.
Another veteran loss for a team, like the Browns, with Super Bowl aspirations.