Cody out indefinitely with knee injury

WESTMINSTER -- Baltimore Ravens rookie outside linebacker Dan Cody suffered a second to third degree sprain to the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the first practice of training camp, and will be out indefinitely pending a second magnetic resonance imaging exam.

Although the Ravens emphasized that the second-round draft pick from Oklahoma has not completely torn his ACL -- which typically requires reconstructive surgery and takes at least a year to recover from -- technically a sprain is a tear according to medical journals.

A second-degree sprain likely means that Cody has a partial tear of his ACL, and a third-degree sprain would be a complete tear that would likely require major surgery and end his season. The Ravens said they plan to have Cody undergo another MRI at some point during camp.

"It's not torn, so that's the positive side," Ravens senior vice president of public relations Kevin Byrne said. "But a sprain indicates that there's some type of tear. There's no time table.

"Once the swelling is out of there, they'll do another MRI again at some point. They'll try to get some flexibility in it in the meantime to see what he can tolerate and not tolerate."

Cody was injured during a full-contact drill when he got tangled underneath a pile of bodies as the offense ran a flea-flicker play.

When Cody tried to place weight on the leg outside of the training room after being carted off the field, he yelled in obvious pain. Cody was on crutches Monday night at the team hotel and didn't comment on his situation.

Cody had been projected as the Ravens' situational pass rusher, replacing four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Peter Boulware, who was released this spring. At Oklahoma, the 6-foot-5, 255-pounder played defensive end and registered 25 career sacks.

"It's devastating to me, for the kid and the whole team, but these things happen and you've got to be ready to move on," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "Hopefully, he can bounce back and be with us soon. Obviously, we're hoping for that. If you have to get hurt, the first day is when you want to get hurt. That way it gives you more time to get ready."

When Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Darren Dreifort had a second-degree sprain of his ACL last year, he underwent surgery and missed the remainder of the season. Dodgers team physician Frank Jobe said that it's rare for an athlete to recover from a second-degree ACL sprain without surgery.

If Cody has a second-degree sprain, the surgery could be done as an arthroscopic-assisted procedure, which means only a small incision would have to be made in the knee.

Medical journals define a second-degree sprain as acute moderate trauma where a moderate amount of ligamentous fibers are torn, resulting in some pain, swelling and disability but little or no joint instability.

A third-degree sprain is an acute and complete tear of the ligament. Swelling and pain may range from minimal to extreme. Disability is always severe, and the joint is rendered unstable.

That would be the worst-case scenario for Cody.

"You hope nobody gets hurt and you pray for their wellness," Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Sooner or later, something is going to happen. Dan went down. Hopefully, it's not too serious. But if it is, we'll just have to take care of it."

Traditionally, the Ravens don't open training camp in full pads, practicing in shorts and helmets. However, an abbreviated camp that breaks Aug. 19 spurred the full-contact drills.

"When you put players on a field, things happen and you've got to be prepared for that," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We're on a short time frame and and we had to get right to it. It was prudent to put them in pads right from the get-go."

Besides a specialized pass-rushing role, Cody was expected to play immediately as outside linebacker Adalius Thomas' backup. Now, Rod Green, a 6-2, 245-pound fifth-round pick who played sparingly last season, will step in for Cody.

Green is viewed as a rare physical specimen whose skills are still somewhat raw having played defensive end at Division II Central Missouri. Green played in nine games last season, recording one tackle.

"I've been saying this whole season to get ready," Ryan said, "because you're going to find all about this kid."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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