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Is 2018 the year the Ravens overcome the injury bug?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Baltimore listed a player on injured reserved 271 times, the highest number of times IR was reported in the last six seasons. With 17 players on IR in 2017, the Ravens were tied for ninth in the league. The Ravens are no stranger to injury woes, but is this the year they finally get healthy?

In the last six seasons, the Ravens have had at least one key contributor end up on IR. In 2017, it was elite guard Marshal Yanda. In 2016, tight end Benjamin Watson spent the entire season on IR. Terrell Suggs, who will likely join Ed Reed and Ray Lewis in Canton after he hangs it up, went down in week one for the year in 2015. In 2014, corner Jimmy Smith missed the last ten games of the season. Dennis Pitta’s injury-plagued career took a turn in 2013 and Ray Lewis spent nine weeks on IR during the team’s Super Bowl run.

According to Spotrac, the Ravens have ranked ninth, second and first in the league for players on IR in the last three years. By comparison, Pittsburgh had the fewest number of players on IR in 2017, with seven and the champion Eagles had four less than the Ravens at 13. When the Ravens lead the NFL in 2015, they had almost double the amount of players on IR than the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos.

Many Ravens played in contests with ailments, as 85 percent of the time players reported as questionable appeared in the games last year. The Ravens injury report listed players as questionable 39 more times more in 2017 than in 2016.

While injury is unavoidable and expected in a high-speed, contact sport, teams are at a severe disadvantage when the depth chart is ravaged by injuries. If the Ravens are able to avoid the pitfall of losing key starters, 2018 may just be the year that Baltimore escapes that dredged top ten for players on IR.