Report: Mark Ingram's Calf Injury Diagnosed as Strain; Ravens to 'Be Cautious'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2019

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 22:  Mark Ingram II #21 of the Baltimore Ravens is helped off of the field after getting injured during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore defeated Cleveland 31-15. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram avoided the worst possible fate Sunday. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Ingram suffered a strained calf:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

#Ravens RB Mark Ingram suffered a calf strain, source said after his MRI. The team will be cautious with the strain (or partial tear), but the hope is Ingram is back on the field for the playoffs based on the severity of the injury.

Ingram, 30, had a major injury scare in the 31-15 win over Cleveland Browns, crumpling to the ground without contact during a zone-read play. He then attempted to get up only for his leg to buckle. It had the look of a potential Achilles rupture, which would have ended his season, though the Ravens announced after the game it was merely a calf strain. 

It's a bullet dodged, especially considering how good Ingram has been this season after signing with the team in free agency. Ingram has rushed 202 times for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns in the regular season, averaging a gaudy five yards per carry while adding 26 receptions for 247 yards and five scores.

The timing of the injury, at least, comes at a time when Baltimore can afford to sit its starters. At 13-2, the team has already locked up the top overall seed in the AFC playoffs and a first-round bye. Ingram almost assuredly will sit next week, and he may not be alone. 

Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews were also banged up in the contest on the same fourth quarter drive that knocked Ingram out of the game, though both returned. Still, the Ravens have to seriously consider sitting their top players against the Pittsburgh Steelers, even with a chance to knock their rivals out of playoff consideration. 

Jamison Hensley @jamisonhensley

If I were the Ravens, smart move would be to rest key players and avoid injury. Here would be my seven inactives for Sunday’s regular season finale vs. Steelers: QB Lamar Jackson RB Mark Ingram G Marshal Yanda S Earl Thomas CB Jimmy Smith DT Brandon Williams OT Ronnie Stanley

Luke Jones @BaltimoreLuke

And to be clear, you can't deactivate all your starters from a numbers standpoint. We're talking about top players and lightening the workload for some other starters.

According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, "The expectation is that Jackson and a handful of the Ravens veterans won't play next Sunday, although Harbaugh said a final decision hadn't been made and that he still wants to consult his leadership council."

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk added that Harbaugh said a decision would be made Monday, writing that the "challenge will be to balance avoiding injuries and ensuring that the team won’t be stale after what would be a three-week break between games."

"We have to improve and get better," Harbaugh told Florio. "That's what matters most."

Regardless, it appears Ingram won't be on the field until the postseason after his injury scare Sunday.