Osemele may need season-ending surgery

Osemele may need season-ending surgery
November 1, 2013, 2:30 pm
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Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele prepares to block Cleveland Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 14 - 6.

(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

Ravens starting left guard Kelechi Osemele may need season-ending back surgery, and will not play Sunday, coach John Harbaugh announced Friday. A.Q. Shipley will start at left guard against the Browns, as the Ravens’ already-challenged offensive line faces another obstacle.

“There’s some changes in his back that we discovered this week,” said Harbaugh, speaking of Osemele. “He’s not going to play in this game, and going forward, the chances of him playing the rest of the year probably are pretty slim. There’s a good chance he’s going to get surgery here real soon. I don’t want to say for sure, 100 percent, because I don’t know if I’m authorized to say that. But I would anticipate that right now. The back was just getting a little worse and a little worse. We went back in and looked at it. There’s some things that need to be taken care of there.”

The left side of the Ravens’ offensive line has been revamped in the last month. Left tackle Eugene Monroe, acquired in a trade with the Jaguars, has replaced Bryant McKinnie, who was traded to the Dolphins. Now Shipley replaces Osemele, meaning Shipley and Monroe will start next to each other for the first time. Shipley played left guard against the Dolphins on Oct. 6 when Osemele’s back seized up during pre-game warmups. However, Shipley has been preparing to start since the middle of the week, when he heard Osemele’s back was getting worse.

“I’m ready, I know the position,” said Shipley, whose main position has been center. “I’ve been practicing (at guard) since the Miami game. I’m been preparing as a starter for something like this. That’s the nature of the business.

“It’s a little easier (playing center), in terms of mental aspect. I feel very comfortable.”

All the Ravens knew how much pain Osemele had been dealing with. His struggles have contributed to the struggles of the offensive line, as Osemele simply did not have the mobility to play the way he wanted to.

“He’s a tough guy,” Shipley said. “I’ve been on three different teams, and he’s one of the toughest guys I’ve been around. We all know how hard back injuries are. He’s a heck of a player. He’s just got to get healthy.”

In the meantime, the Ravens need to get wins. And they will have to do it with Shipley replacing Osemele.

“He’s quick, he’s strong, I think he’ll do a great job while he’s in there,” right tackle Michael Oher said of Shipley. “But it’s always tough when a guy who’s starting, and who’s a good player, goes down.”