Preseason injuries can afflict any franchise, but no team has been bitten worse by the injury bug than Baltimore. Nine Ravens have been lost to season-ending injuries since June 1, including running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) and tight ends Dennis Pitta (hip) and Crockett Gillmore (knee).

Oh, and there’s also this: Joe Flacco is still reeling from a back injury he suffered in July. In fact, Flacco, 32, isn’t even practicing with the team, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh insists that the 32-year-old will be ready to roll against the Bengals in Week 1.

What should we make of this?

“I think the Baltimore Ravens are one of the biggest question marks across the league,” NFL on CBS reporter and analyst Evan Washburn said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Yes, they’ve been decimated by some critical injuries across their roster – and those are going to be big deals. But it all stars and ends with Joe Flacco. For a guy that’s had a back injury to not practice at least publicly in what appears to be at any point with his team up until what looks like the week leading up to Week 1, where they’ve pretty much guaranteed he will start, to me, is fascinating. (I can’t) remember that ever happening before.”

 

 

Or working. Which isn’t exactly what you want to hear when you’ve missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons.

“Knowing how Joe likes to work and how he can put himself in the best position to be successful, he’s not a guy that I think of as somebody who can just hop right in there and start slinging the ball around and everything’s working well,” Washburn said. “I understand they have to be safe with his back, and if he’s healthy, now’s the time to start, but that’s the biggest question facing that organization and that team. If Joe’s not right come Week 1, then everything else means nothing. My biggest concern for them is he’s just not going to have enough time to get himself right for Week 1. Back injuries aren’t something that you really fix unless you truly fix it; it’s something you have to manage over the course of the year – and that’s a concern in a really physical game.”

Flacco completed 64.9 percent of his passes for a career-high 4,317 yards last season. He also threw 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Baltimore opens in Cincinnati on Sept. 10. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

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