Third-year Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins is in the final stages of recovery from a torn ACL that he suffered during the team’s preseason finale a year ago. You can say that he is in a hurry to get back on the field—in fact, if it weren’t for the team doctors, he would already be out there, and he may soon get his way.
Head coach John Harbaugh said as much following practice yesterday, via the team’s website, when updating the status of the players still remaining on the Physically Unable to Perform List. Of Dobbins, he said, “J.K. is a little more of a hurry, because he’s making it a hurry. He wants to get back out there”.
He added that they will take a look at where the former second-round draft pick is on Monday, saying, “Maybe he starts doing something like individual”, stressing that it will be a decision that is up to the team physicians rather than the player or the coaches.
Dobbins seemed poised to take over the running game for the Ravens in 2021 prior to the injury. As a rookie, he only started one game, and playing time was only granted to him slowly over the course of the season, but he finished the year with 805 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on just 134 carries, carrying six yards per. He also had another 120 yards on 18 receptions.
The last runner other than quarterback Lamar Jackson who has rushed for 1000 or more yards in a season for the Ravens was Mark Ingram in 2019, and he finished second to Jackson. The latter also rushed for over 1000 in 2020, with Dobbins hitting just over 800, and Gus Edwards, who also missed all of last season due to injury, hitting over 700 for a third straight season.
Without Dobbins, Edwards, and Justice Hill, the Ravens’ running game largely relied upon Jackson as a first option. Adjusting for time lost due to injury, he averaged a career-high in rushes per game at just under 12.
He still led the team in rushing even though he missed five games, totaling 767 yards, with Devontae Freeman and Latavius Murray both eclipsing 500 yards. Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley also rushed for nearly 300, while Le’Veon Bell had 83 rushing yards.
While Freeman, Murray, and Bell have all been Pro Bowlers in the past, they were all clearly past their prime, precisely why they were available to be signed during training camp. Getting Dobbins back and fully up to speed would be huge for the Ravens’ running game, and for their offense as a whole, if he can match the potential that he teased as a rookie.