Ravens remain NFL's kings of pain with league-worst 15 players on IR

Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda is one of the latest additions to an already-long Ravens IR list. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have jumped out to a 2-0 start on the strength of a playmaking defense, stubborn running game and resiliency that's been tested more than any other team in the NFL.

The loss of Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda will increase the Ravens' injured reserve list to a whopping 15 players. That not only leads the NFL but it's the total of players on IR for the rest of the AFC North teams combined. There are 23 teams -- 71 percent of the league -- who don't have half as many players on IR as the Ravens.

Why has Baltimore had more injuries than anyone else?

"There is no one single answer," coach John Harbaugh said. "I can't answer it any better than you can, but I am not trying to. I don't think you have to. You have to move on and you make the best of it."

There really hasn't been a trend with the Ravens' bad run of injuries. One-third of the injured reserve players have suffered knee injuries, although it's been different circumstances.

Cornerback Tavon Young injured his ACL after intercepting a pass in an offseason practice and bumping into a teammate. Rookie lineman Nico Siragusa tore three knee ligaments after getting caught in a pile-up in a training camp practice. Tight end Crockett Gillmore tore his MCL during a camp practice when he landed awkwardly trying to catch a sideline pass. And promising running back Kenneth Dixon suffered a cartilage injury right before camp while working out with his college team.

Other injuries ranged from a shoulder (guard Alex Lewis) to a thumb (returner Tim White), and from a concussion (cornerback Sheldon Price) to a hamstring (running back Danny Woodhead). This doesn't include another hip injury to Dennis Pitta, the NFL's receptions leaders for all tight ends last season who was released in June.

The good news is the Ravens will likely bring back Woodhead and nickelback Maurice Canady around midseason as their designated for return players. The bad news is Baltimore will still be without two starters on the offensive line (Yanda and Lewis), its top nickel-back (Young), its best special teams player (Albert McClellan), a former starting tight end (Gillmore) and an explosive returner (White) for the rest of the season.

"That's kind of the nature of the job," left tackle Ronnie Stanley said. "We're a physical team. That kind of stuff happens with football. It's a physical sport and people are going to get hurt once in a while."

For the Ravens, the injuries occur more than once in a while. Over the last three seasons, the Ravens have placed 68 players on injured reserve, which are the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Baltimore has tried to cut down on the number of injuries. The Ravens changed their conditioning program by hiring Steve Saunders as their director of performance. The team changed its playing surface at M&T Bank Stadium, going back to natural grass in 2016.

What hasn't changed is the Ravens' luck when it comes to losing players to injury.

"There is no one general answer. There is not an answer for it," Harbaugh said. "Somebody falls on somebody’s leg in a game -- that is how guys get injured. We have not had many soft-tissue injuries. That is a credit to our training staff and our strength and conditioning staff. That is something that we have cleaned up. If you look around the league, we do a lot better than the rest of the league with the soft-tissue stuff. The other stuff is just stuff. Guys get in awkward situations in the game of football."