Training camp hasn't even truly begun, and we've got to talk about how an injury will affect the Ravens this season.
Not the smoothest start to things, huh?
We found out yesterday that linebacker Sergio Kindle, the Ravens' top draft pick this year, will miss all of training camp due to a fractured skull, and there's a decent chance he won't be back on a football field for a few months.
As head coach John Harbaugh said, you don't really want someone with a fractured skull running around using his head to make tackles until you're sure that he's 100 percent healthy. Kindle will take his recovery slowly, and there's no telling when he'll be ready to play again.
Kindle wasn't going to be a starter right away, so the Ravens won't need to do any shuffling amongst their first team, but the rookie was expected to make an impact in a reserve role.
The coaches were planning on using him behind Jarret Johnson and inserting him in pass rushing situations to provide a spark off the edge. Getting to the quarterback has been a point of emphasis for the Ravens this offseason, and that's Kindle's specialty. He posted 16.5 sacks in his collegiate career and was considered one of the top pass rushing outside linebackers in this year's draft class.
So who will draw the responsibility of filling the void that Kindle's injury leaves? One guy pops to mind immediately - Antwan Barnes.
Barnes was in the mix for reps in a pass rush role even before Kindle's injury, but this new twist means the fourth-year man out of Florida International will now likely be counted on to play an even bigger role.
Barnes showed last year what he can do when given an opportunity. In the final four regular season games, he had three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
He has had some differences with the coaching staff at times, but appears to be on a positive road going into camp this year.
As for special teams (where Kindle was also expected to be a key contributor), the return of a few previously-injured special teams aces should more than help make up for Kindle's absence.
Brendon Ayanbadejo, Haruki Nakamura, Matt Lawrence and Marcus Smith all suffered season-ending injuries last year, and all four should be back during camp. (Ayanbadejo is the furthest from returning.)
Their returns should make special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg sleep easier at night and minimize the impact of Kindle's injury.
We'll get a chance to see those four this morning as the first practice of camp is set to begin at 8:45. Kindle won't be there, but the Ravens will have a few guys that they can use in his place.