Kelechi Osemele says back could require offseason surgery, John Harbaugh doesn't want to comment on it

Kelechi Osemele is battling through a back injury that's lingered throughout the entire season. - USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens' left guard told Sports Illustrated that he is dealing with some back pain that has left him less than 100 percent.

The Ravens' offensive line has dealt with numerous issues this year.

Whether it's the blocking schemes, execution, welcoming a new center or injuries, it just seems nothing has been able to get on the same page.

However, the most concerning part may well be what's going on may well be at left guard with Kelechi Osemele. Osemele had a fairly good rookie season at right tackle and later performed well at left guard during Baltimore's Super Bowl run.

Osemele's play has struggled through seven games this year. He's had a hard time bending for his blocks and he's allowed quicker, more agile defenders get by him. Pass protection up the middle has been a problem, with Osemele responsible for some of the blame.

As he admitted to Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko, Osemele is dealing with a lingering back issue that won't go away. This is clearly affecting his play.

"I’m not 100%, and I wont be until surgery after the season, until they fix the disk," Osemele told SI. "But I manage it, and treat it every day to treat the symptoms. With this issue degrading, it’s going to take time to heal. And it’s not going to heal during the season; this is a full-contact sport. But I can’t make excuses, I’ve just got to continue to get better."

Osemele wasn't listed on the injury report, which is probably part of the reason why coach John Harbaugh didn't answer the question head-on this past Monday.

"I'm not going to comment on that," Harbaugh told reporters. "He's a tough guy; he fights through a lot of different things. A lot of guys have a lot of things. Probably most players in the league have something along those lines that way. So, he fights through it. He had the same issue last year and he fought through it last year."

The problem for the Ravens is that there isn't much depth behind Osemele. His backup is A.Q. Shipley, who's better suited for center. Jah Reid is all but an afterthought for the offensive line at this time, which means the Ravens are counting on Osemele to fight through the injury.

Harbaugh did say that Osemele's toughness has been evident, without exactly admitting that there could be something problematic affecting his play.

"K.O. is tough, man," Harbaugh said. "All those guys are. Anybody that plays in this league, with the physical demands that this game puts on you, you have to respect — especially those guys in the trenches. So, he's no different than most of the guys that way."


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