Ravens place defensive back A. Washington on injured reserve with chest injury

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Even with the pass defense off to a strong start in 2023, the hits keep coming for the Ravens secondary.

After beginning the regular season without top cornerback Marlon Humphrey (foot) and losing starting free safety Marcus Williams (pectoral) in Week 1, the Ravens will now be without third-year nickel back Ar’Darius Washington, who landed on injured reserve with a chest injury on Tuesday. It’s unclear when the injury occurred as Washington played all but three defensive snaps in Sunday’s 27-24 win over Cincinnati, but he will now miss a minimum of four games before being eligible to return. Head coach John Harbaugh made no mention of Washington’s status after the game or during his Monday press conference in Owing Mills.

To fill the open spot on the 53-man roster, the Ravens promoted center Sam Mustipher from the practice squad. Elevated to play in each of the first two games, Mustipher started in place of the injured Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) in Week 2.

A 2021 undrafted free agent out of TCU, Washington entered training camp perceived to be on the roster bubble after appearing in just six games over his first two seasons, but his strong summer — coupled with multiple injuries to teammates in the secondary — won him the nickel role to start the season. Pro Football Focus graded the 5-foot-8, 177-pound Washington 34th among 98 qualified corners through the first two weeks of the season as he collected 11 tackles, two pass breakups, and a sack in the most extensive action of his young career.

“He plays extremely fast. He plays decisive. He’s not the biggest [defensive back] of all time, but he throws his body around and he doesn’t play little,” defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said last month. “He plays like a big player, so, I give him credit for that. He’s a tough player, and he’s a lot more consistent this year I’d say than at this time last year. I think he’d say the same thing. I’m pleased with A.D.’s progress for sure.”

With Washington sidelined indefinitely, the Ravens could turn to veteran Arthur Maulet, who was a healthy scratch in the first two games of the season. Signed only days before the start of training camp to compete for the primary nickel role, the 30-year-old Maulet spent the last two seasons with Pittsburgh and played a career-high 481 defensive snaps and all 17 games for the Steelers in 2022, collecting 59 tackles, an interception, and two sacks.

Maulet sustained a “frustrating” hamstring injury that sidelined him for most of August, but Baltimore elected to keep him on the 53-man roster anyway.

“I’m just grateful for them to honestly believe in my talents and the way I play,” Maulet said late last month. “I learned the playbook pretty fast. It’s pretty simple. I’m a downhill guy, an aggressive nickel back, so I think I fit the scheme perfectly. I’m just ready to obviously show my skill set and help this team be successful this season.”

Neither Humphrey — who underwent foot surgery in mid-August — nor Williams is on IR, but it’s unclear when exactly they’ll return to game action. On Monday, Harbaugh revealed Williams would not undergo surgery for his pectoral injury or go on IR despite initial concerns that he could miss the remainder of the season.

Second-year cornerback Damarion Williams is currently on injured reserve after undergoing ankle surgery in August while cornerback Trayvon Mullen underwent season-ending toe surgery over the summer.

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