We learned last night that Donte' Stallworth will miss about half of the regular season after breaking his left foot, which is a blow to the Ravens' offense as well as a blow to the wide receiver's spirits.
After being suspended for the entire 2009 season, Stallworth had seemingly been loving life the past few months with the Ravens. He was getting to run around and play football again, and constantly seemed to have a smile on his face around team headquarters.
The injury will be tough for Stallworth to take, considering how hard he worked to get back into game shape and to learn the Ravens' offense over the last few months.
The main question Ravens fans are asking this morning is how much will the wide receiver's absence impact the Ravens push for the playoffs.
The answer: A little.
Stallworth looked to be running well in camp and the preseason, and could have provided the Ravens with a deep threat to compliment the possession receiving styles of Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.
Yes, the Ravens will miss that big-play ability for the first eight (or so) weeks of the season.
But Stallworth had been getting all of his reps this preseason as the Ravens' fourth wide receiver, with Mark Clayton remaining the Ravens' third wideout. Clayton had a very solid camp and has looked good in the preseason as well, posting five catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.
If the current depth chart remained the same throughout the course of the season, Stallworth would not have seen a ton of playing time, and would have gotten most of his reps when the Ravens opted to spread the field from time to time with a four wide receiver set.
If Clayton can remain healthy (the concussion he suffered last night is minor) and continue to produce as the Ravens' third wideout, Stallworth's absence will not be a huge hit to the offense.
Demetrius Williams can step in as the Ravens' fourth wide receiver (he is the most likely option there over Marcus Smith or David Reed because of his experience) and the offense should continue to click.
Stallworth will have a couple months to get healthy, and it looks like he'll be able to come back for the second half of the season.
This isn't a knock on the speedy wide receiver, but because of the Ravens' depth at the position, they should be just fine while he's gone.