OWINGS MILLS — After the suspension of Jimmy Smith and the injuries sustained to offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley and James Hurst, the Ravens got hit with more bad news on Friday when Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported via Twitter that rookie tight end Hayden Hurst will miss 3-4 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot.
As mentioned by Garafolo, Hurst is undergoing a procedure today that includes getting a screw inserted in the foot. It is unknown which foot sustained this injury, but that will likely be revealed when either team reporters, the Ravens, or Hurst himself shares a photo on social media. This is the type of injury that will probably require a walking boot, so it will be hard to hide.
If Hurst does end up only missing 3-4 weeks, that would likely make the September 23 game against the Denver Broncos his return date and his NFL regular season debut. So far in the preseason Hurst has caught five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.
This is a really tough blow for the Ravens and it will throw another wrench into forming the 53-man roster. Hurst was drafted 25th overall and filled a gaping hole for the Ravens, as the tight end position was clearly their weakest area heading into the draft. A month into his first NFL training camp, Hurst has already dealt with multiple injuries. He missed some time at the beginning of camp with a ‘soft tissue issue’, and now this ailment will force him to sit out the beginning of his first NFL season.
In terms of the 53-man roster, Hurst’s absence will make the decisions at tight end even more interesting. Throughout camp, questions have been swirling over if the Ravens will keep four tight ends on the team, something they rarely do. Now the Ravens will likely have no choice but to keep four tight ends, with three healthy come week 1. Nick Boyle has been reliable throughout camp, but Maxx Williams and Mark Andrews have also missed time with injuries. With Hurst already out the first handful of games, Williams and Andrews need to stay on the field.
Another name to keep an eye on is Darren Waller. If Williams or Andrews suffers another injury setback over the next week, Waller could also make the team. After serving a year-long suspension, Waller returned to practice two weeks ago and has reportedly made some plays. His reliability and passion for football have been questioned, but he could still make his way onto the roster in the wake of Hurst’s injury.
Although Hurst’s current injury time-frame sees him returning to the field by September 23, given the nature of stress fractures and procedures involving screws, it could end up being a longer recovery window. As someone who’s suffered a stress fracture before (I had one in my back during my junior year of high school), it would not surprise me at all if we don’t see Hurst until October.
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