Notebook: Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox has season-ending ACL tear

December 27, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens' fears were confirmed Monday when a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed that rookie long snapper Morgan Cox tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss Sunday's regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals and the postseason.

"He's got a torn ACL, and he's got a third-degree sprain in his MCL. So he's out for the year," coach John Harbaugh said. "And like we said after the game, that was kind of our fear. What he managed to do, to play through that, [running back] Willis McGahee would have been our long snapper. And Willis does a great job, but we'd rather have Morgan Cox or a professional long snapper doing that job. It would have been tough to win the game without him. For him to gut it out the way that he did, that was probably one of the keys to victory. So I'm really proud of his gutsy performance."

Cox's knee was wrapped and taped, and he required crutches to navigate the visiting locker room at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Cox said he suffered the injury while blocking on Billy Cundiff's 27-yard field goal with 13:35 left in the second quarter of the Ravens' eventual 20-10 victory Sunday.

Prior to learning the official diagnosis, Cox had tried to remain optimistic.

"This is extremely disappointing, but like I said, I'm trying to stay hopeful," he said. "Maybe somehow, it wasn't as bad as they say it is. But I'll do the best I can and get back as soon as possible."

The loss of Cox could be critical as he has developed a cohesion with Cundiff and punter Sam Koch, Harbaugh said.

"It's a factor," he said. "It's something that's going to be tough. They've really worked together since OTAs [Organized Team Activities], and they've taken every snap together. Those guys do get a chemistry built up, but we'll bring in a good long snapper and short snapper, somebody that's been a pro, somebody that's done it before, and we'll be OK."

Harbaugh said the team will spend Tuesday trying out long snappers.

Updates on Heap, Zbikowski

As Todd Heap said Sunday, the team elected to sit him for his third consecutive game rather than aggravate his pulled right hamstring.

"We just decided to play it safe," Harbaugh said Monday. "He probably could have played, but then we would have been risking more than we wanted to. We felt like we had two tight ends that could play. The young guys have done a nice job. But then we lose [rookie] Dennis [Pitta] on the very first kickoff on a concussion situation. So we ended up a little bit light there. But I'd say he's got a great chance this week."

Harbaugh said he's not expecting Tom Zbikowski to play Sunday, but he emphasized that placing the free safety on injured reserve and ending his season is not an option yet.

"We think he's got a good chance to get back for the playoffs," Harbaugh said. "He was running around today a little bit. So again, we'll keep our fingers crossed, but I'm hopeful for the first round of the playoffs."

Outlook on Gooden brighter than Pitta

The Ravens said they will be extremely cautious with Pitta, who sustained a concussion — his second of the season — on the opening kickoff of Sunday's win.

"I'm not really sure of the science on it, but we'll just sit tight," Harbaugh said Monday. "The thing we've learned to do with concussions is to assume that they're out until they're back. You just can't count on those guys. We had [offensive tackles] Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll [suffer concussions] in training camp, [and] it seemed like forever. And other guys come back the next day. [Rookie kick returner/wide receiver] David Reed's another guy who is in that boat right now. We've got to see how he does, too. So we'll keep our fingers crossed for both of those days."

Harbaugh sounded more optimistic about inside linebacker Tavares Gooden, who aggravated the left shoulder that he dislocated in the team's 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 19.

"Pretty sore," Harbaugh said of Gooden's shoulder. "I think he's going to be OK. We just have to see how it responds, but our trainers are pretty confident that he'll be OK."

Contract talk

Since making the jump from special teams coordinator and secondary coach with the Philadelphia Eagles to head coach with the Ravens in January 2008, Harbaugh hasn't just met expectations, but he has exceeded them.

He became the fourth NFL head coach since 1990 to lead his team to the playoffs in his first three years, joining Bill Cowher, Dennis Green and Barry Switzer. But Harbaugh, who has one year left on his contract after this season, said he's not concerned about getting an extension.

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