Ravens Expect RB Keaton Mitchell To Return During Season

Injuries defined Keaton Mitchell‘s rookie season. The explosive running back did not debut for the Ravens until Week 6 and was done by Week 15. In between, the UDFA displayed promise.

Albeit on just 47 carries, Mitchell finished his rookie year with a monster yards-per-carry number (8.4) and offered Baltimore a new dimension in its backfield. But the East Carolina product’s ACL tear brought more of the same for a Ravens backfield that had dealt with significant J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards maladies in recent years. Mitchell, 22, is on track to follow Dobbins and Edwards in seeing a prior year’s injury cost him time the following season.

John Harbaugh said Wednesday that Mitchell is on track with his rehab, but the second-year RB will not be ready for training camp. Mitchell is also expected to miss some time in-season, with Harbaugh indicating a return is expected “sometime during” the 2024 campaign. This aligns with what GM Eric DeCosta said in March. The 5-foot-8 ball carrier appears a prime candidate to begin the season on the Ravens’ reserve/PUP list. That would sideline him for at least four games, but the Ravens have since made a bigger investment at running back.

The Ravens lost both Dobbins and Edwards for the 2021 season’s entirety, leading to a brigade of aging veterans stopping through. Dobbins did not land on the reserve/PUP list the following season, but the former second-rounder was not ready to go until Week 3 of the 2022 slate. He also ran into more knee trouble that year, requiring an IR stay. Edwards did land on Baltimore’s PUP list and did not start his 2022 season until Week 7 of that season. Both veterans reunited with Greg Roman in Los Angeles, and the Ravens are now a Derrick Henry-centered backfield.

Baltimore gave the two-time rushing champion a two-year, $16MM deal. With $9MM of that fully guaranteed, the Ravens have the chance to reevaluate the ninth-year veteran’s form after this season. Mitchell figures to factor into that process, with he and Justice Hill the Ravens’ primary Henry backups going into the 2024 season. The team also used a fifth-round pick on Marshall’s Rasheen Ali, providing more insurance while Mitchell rehabs.

He of a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the 2023 Combine, Mitchell gave a Dobbins-less backfield an immediate jolt midway through last season. He totaled 138 rushing yards on nine carries in a Ravens rout of the Seahawks. The Ravens used Mitchell as a change-of-pace option last season, keeping his carry count under 10 in each of his outings, but his injury in Jacksonville certainly hurt the eventual No. 1 seed’s offense.

Mitchell can be retained — through the ERFA and RFA process — through the 2026 season, giving the Ravens a low-cost option. For now, the team will await on the Henry complementary piece’s recovery.

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