The Ravens are dealing with injuries throughout their offense, with wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman having already been ruled out for tomorrow’s game against the Browns (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter). While Baltimore’s receiving corps may be in doubt, the team did get some good news regarding their running back depth.
The Ravens were really forced to dig into their running back depth against Indy. J.K. Dobbins, of course, has been ruled out for the season, and with Hill missing the contest, the Ravens were expected to lean heavily on Gus Edwards. However, the veteran suffered a concussion during that contest, and the Ravens ended up giving Melvin Gordon and Kenyan Drake a combined 40 snaps.
While Fowler notes that Gordon is still expected to be called up from the practice squad for Baltimore’s Week 4 game, it sounds like the team should be able to roll with their top-two options at the position. Edwards returned to practice this week, an indication that he’s cleared concussion protocol and should be good to go for this weekend.
With Hill also expected back, it will be interesting to see how the Ravens divvy up the RB snaps. Hill outsnapped Edwards when the two played alongside each other in Week 2 (43 to 32), and Hill also got more snaps when Dobbins went down during Week 1.
With options like Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette in free agency and a player like Jonathan Taylor reportedly available via trade, no one would blame Harbaugh and company for bringing in an experienced starter to tote the rock. Instead, the Ravens feel confident in the options they have in-house to take over with Harbaugh even indicating that they will be operating with a committee in the backfield.
When Dobbins exited Sunday’s game, fifth-year backup Justice Hill stepped in and immediately scored a touchdown, his first since the 2019 season. While he later scored a second touchdown, matching his career-high for a season, Hill only amassed nine yards on eight carries. Veteran backup rusher Gus Edwards, who has filled in as a starter at times in his career, was a bit more productive with his eight carries, racking up 32 yards.
Adding veterans didn’t quite deliver the desired result two years ago when Dobbins, Edwards, and Hill all missed the 2021 season with season-ending injuries before the year even began. That year, Baltimore turned to a committee featuring veteran backs like Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’Veon Bell in conjunction with Ty’Son Williams. Freeman and Murray each reached 500 rushing yards and delivered six scores apiece, but overall, the running game was dependent on quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Still, the Ravens added veteran rusherMelvin Gordon in the offseason, ultimately cutting him and signing him to the practice squad before the regular season. Gordon seems like an obvious callup to help carry the load without Dobbins. The Ravens also saw some impressive preseason performances from undrafted rookies Keaton Mitchell and Owen Wright, landing both on the team’s roster in some capacity to start the year. Mitchell currently resides on injured reserve himself, so he’s unable to contribute at this time. Wright, though, landed on the practice squad and may also hear his number called up to the active roster this season.
Dobbins is now expected to undergo surgery to repair his Achilles tendon this Friday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Pelissero points out that Rams running back Cam Akers recovered from a similar surgery in less than six months two years ago. Dobbins will be aiming for a similar timeline, bringing him back shortly after the start of the 2024 league year.
In other injury news, Harbaugh confirmed that starting free safety Marcus Williams “will be out for a while” after suffering a pectoral muscle injury, according to Ravens editorial director Ryan Mink. Williams missed seven games in his Baltimore debut last year and will be forced to miss more in 2023, but the team is holding out hope that he will not be out for the season. He’ll be forced to make a decision soon on whether or not he will undergo surgery, as well.
Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum suffered a sprained knee and ankle, respectively, forcing them both to leave the game early, as well. Both players are reportedly “week-to-week” but could miss the trip to Cincinnati this Sunday. Versatile sixth-man Patrick Mekari stepped in for Stanley yesterday and is an easy choice to start as an injury replacement as he’s done so often in the past. Offseason addition and practice squad callup Sam Mustipher filled in at center and will likely continue to do so, if needed.
The team will certainly hope that they won’t need to rely on Mekari and Mustipher for too long, and though they are clearly missing many bodies for the upcoming matchup with their division-rival, they’ll hope to get some back, too. Both cornerback Marlon Humphrey and tight end Mark Andrews will have a chance to play this weekend. There’s still work to be done, but things have been looking up recently for both players.
The Ravens’ offense has produced a top-three rushing attack in each of the past five seasons. This certainly doesn’t mean that the team had have its fair share of issues at running back, namely injuries.
Dating back to 2018, when a rookie, Gus Edwards, was forced to start in place of an injured Alex Collins, nearly every back on the roster, from Edwards to Mark Ingram to Justice Hill to J.K. Dobbins has missed time due to injury. Will that affect the way they fill their roster this season? Not exactly, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.
In the past, the serious nature of some of these injuries have forced Baltimore to invest in inexpensive veterans with starting experience like Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’Veon Bell. Veterans with starting experience are available in bulk this year with Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette all available on the free agent market. None of those options are necessarily cheap, but according to Zrebiec, the Ravens aren’t looking for an option that would take snaps away from their top tandem, anyway.
The Ravens are extremely confident in their one-two punch of Dobbins and Edwards. The two are impressive, each with starting ability in their own right while providing different attacking styles and running traits. When both are healthy in the backfield behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, it’s easy to predict yet another strong rushing performance in Baltimore.
The injuries have held the duo back in recent years, though. Dobbins has missed 26 games in the past two years, including the entire 2021 season. Edwards missed 25 games in the same time period after also missing the entire 2021 season. The fact that the Ravens aren’t looking for anyone to take significant carries in free agency, though, bodes well for their prognoses for 2023.
The team isn’t looking for potential starters in case of injury, but they are looking for camp bodies who can keep Dobbins and Edwards off their feet throughout the preseason. Currently on the roster, Baltimore is home to the veteran backup Hill and undrafted rookies Keaton Mitchell and Owen Wright. The Ravens re-signed Hill back in March to a two-year, $4.51MM deal, and while his special teams prowess should guarantee him a roster, he’s never contributed significantly on offense. Mitchell and Wright, on the other hand, are great camp bodies, but unless one of them breaks out this preseason, neither is likely to make the initial 53-man roster.
So, what is Baltimore looking for in a free agent addition? The Ravens could really use another camp body or two that can serve as injury insurance throughout the season, as well. Zrebiec suggests a strong option in former-Raven Kenyan Drake. The veteran running back spent his seventh season in the league in Baltimore last year and ended up leading the position room in carries, trailing only Jackson for the team lead. Drake provided some solid depth to a team gingerly returning from significant injuries to its top three running backs and would likely be an affordable option to bring back in for the 2023 season.
Drake would already be familiar enough with the team, despite a new offensive coordinator in Baltimore, but J.D. McKissic and Marlon Mack provide similar potential as roster additions. James Robinson provides a younger option after his recent release from the Patriots. All three have shown flashes of starter potential but don’t necessitate a contract befitting a starter. Adding one or two of these backs could provide the Ravens with a little insurance heading into the season with a hopefully healthy tandem for the first time since 2020.
Gus Edwards returned from a torn ACL last season, getting into nine games for the Ravens. The team will be counting on a healthy season from the running back in 2023, and as a result, it sounds like they’re bringing him along slowly.
Coach John Harbaugh told reporters that Edwards will only be “partially ready” for next week’s minicamp and should be “fully ready” for training camp in July (per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley on Twitter). The running back was present at OTAs but didn’t participate in team drills.
“I think minicamp, partially ready I’m hearing,” Harbaugh said (via the team’s website). “Training camp he’s supposed to be fully ready.
“He just wasn’t quite ready to get back out and practice yet – no setback. Maybe they’re being a little cautious, but that’s what they’re doing.”
Edwards was a dependable member of Baltimore’s backfield for the first three seasons of his career, with the running back averaging 5.2 yards on his 414 carries while scoring 10 touchdowns. A torn ACL wiped out his entire 2021 season, and after returning this past October, Edwards added another 433 yards and three touchdowns.
The Ravens running back corps will also feature J.K. Dobbins, who made his way back from his own 2021 ACL injury to get into eight games last season. The 24-year-old also missed a chunk of last year after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Justice Hill is the only other RB with any experience on the depth chart, as the team is otherwise looking at UDFAs Keaton Mitchell and OwenWright for depth.
As expected, the Browns have restructured the contract of quarterback Deshaun Watson, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). The move saves Cleveland just under $36MM in cap space, and avoids Watson breaking the NFL record for the highest cap hit in a single season (he was due to count for $54.9MM in 2023).
As was recently noted, the Browns did not require Watson’s permission to convert base salary into signing bonus, though he was reportedly open to the idea. His historic, fully-guaranteed pact signed last offseason upon his acquisition from the Texans was always seen as a financial burden beginning in 2023 due to its structure. While this move thus comes as no surprise (and will, of course, affect his cap hits in future years), it will give Cleveland the spending power needed to make at least one or two notable additions in free agency this week.
Here are some other recent contract restructures, as teams look to carve out much-needed cap space for the coming free agent frenzy:
Buccaneers receiver Russell Gagetook a slight pay cut for this year to remain in Tampa Bay. Per Rapoport (on Twitter), the 27-year-old agreed to lower his salary from $10MM to $7MM – the latter figure now being fully guaranteed – with incentives in place to earn it back. After a slew of recent cost-cutting moves and financial maneuvering, Tampa Bay is now slightly under the cap ceiling in time for the start of the new league year.
Backup Ravens running back Gus Edwardshas been seen by many as a potential cut or trade candidate, as the team looks to add financial wiggle room. He will remain in the fold for the coming season, however. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the 27-year-old has agreed to drop his base salary (set to be $4.4MM) by roughly $1MM (Twitter link). He, too will have the chance to make back that amount and more if he hits the new incentives in place in his deal. Edwards is entering the final year of his contract.
The Bills will have Nyheim Hinesin the backfield at a different cap number than he was originally scheduled for. Rapoport’s colleague Mike Garafolo tweets that Hines is re-working his contract to move part of his base salary into a signing bonus. The midseason trade acquisition was due a base salary of $4.45MM in 2023, and set to carry a cap hit of $4.79MM. Garafolo notes that Hines will have the chance, via incentives, to earn more than the latter figure this season. He is on the books through 2024.
The Ravens loaded up at safety this offseason, signing Williams to a five-year, $70MM deal and drafting Kyle Hamilton in the first round. Williams’ pact continued a steady run of big Ravens investments in the position, following the likes of Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson and Earl Thomas. The wrist dislocation in Week 5, however, paused Williams’ initial Baltimore season and has led to the ex-Saint’s longest absence as a pro. Williams entered this season having missed just five games in five seasons.
Rather than dramatically increasing Hamilton’s workload, Baltimore has used Geno Stone alongside Chuck Clark in Williams’ absence. While Hamilton did clear the 50% snap barrier for the first time all season against the Saints on Monday, Stone has not missed a snap over the past three weeks. Despite coming into the season with just one start in two years, the former Ravens seventh-round pick has fit in on a defense full of high-profile veterans. Pro Football Focus ranks both Stone and Hamilton as top-10 safeties this season.
Baltimore’s defensive production under new DC Mike Macdonald remains a bit south of where it was during most of the Don Martindale era, excluding 2021’s injury-flooded mess. The team ranks outside the top half in scoring and total defense. But Macdonald’s unit turned in a strong effort in New Orleans; it also has registered the league’s third-most takeaways (16) and ranks fourth in sacks (27). The Ravens now have six All-Pros (Calais Campbell, Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Roquan Smith) on their defense, with first-rounders Hamilton, Patrick Queen and Odafe Oweh also in the fold. Putting Williams back in this mix will add intrigue to Baltimore’s run at its first division title since 2019.
The Ravens expect Gus Edwards and DeSean Jackson to be good to go after their Week 10 bye, Harbaugh said. Both are battling hamstring injuries, with Jackson suffering his latest hamstring setback in his Baltimore debut.
NOVEMBER 6: To little surprise, the Ravens announced on Sunday that Andrews will not travel with the team to New Orleans, as he is out. Fourth-round rookie Isaiah Likely will assume his starting tight end role.
NOVEMBER 5: The Ravens’ pass-catching corps is in a state of flux right now, with the team’s No.1 wideout sidelined for the remainder of the campaign. Especially significant given that development, a new face will likely join the unit on Monday night.
“I think that’s a good possibility,” head coach John Harbuagh said when asked about the 35-year-old suiting up. “We’re going to keep seeing how he’s doing, but I personally think he’s probably ready. If he’s ready two days from now, then he’ll be out there.”
Receiver was already a position filled with question marks for the Ravens before 2021 first-rounder Rashod Batemanunderwent season-ending foot surgery. That will lead to a greater workload for the likes of Devin Duvernay, James Procheand Tylan Wallace. Jackson could provide a deep threat to compliment that quartet, however, as he has throughout his career. He played one game for the Rams and Raiders each in 2021.
Jackson’s role could be even larger if tight end Mark Andrewsis unable to play. The All-Pro exited Baltimore’s win over the Buccaneers last week with shoulder and ankle injuries, though Harbaugh had indicated that a long-term absence was not expected in his case. Especially with Bateman unavailable, Andrews missing Monday’s game as well would deal a major blow to a passing attack which ranks 26th in the league with an average of just 204 yards per game through the air.
Andrews has been listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report. The same is true of running back Gus Edwards, who also left last week’s game with an injury. That had been just the second contest he played in this year, after missing of all 2021 with an ACL tear. A hamstring injury appears likely to keep him out for Week 9, but the bye week immediately following that game could see him quickly resume lead back duties in the absence of J.K. Dobbins.
Looking to extend their winning streak to three games and maintain their advantage in the AFC North, the Ravens will have a shorthanded skill-position corps in New Orleans. How much Jackson contributes to the offense will be of particular note during the primetime affair.
The Ravens have made a significant move ahead of tomorrow’s trade deadline to bolster their defense, but the AFC North leaders are facing a murky situation with respect to their offense. A number of the unit’s key contributors are facing injuries at the moment, and have a range of expected return dates.
Baltimore’s running back tandem of J.K. Dobbinsand Gus Edwardshave yet to be healthy at the same time in 2022, something which will continue for a at least a few more games. The former was placed on IR last week, after he played in four games upon return from the knee injury which cost him the entire 2021 season. That move was not actually the result of a new injury, however, as head coach John Harbaugh confirmed (video link). Rather, Dobbins underwent surgery to “accelerate” the process by which he can regain full range of motion in his knee. Harbaugh indicated Dobbins could miss four to six weeks depending on the success of his recovery.
That news leaves Edwards as the team’s lead back, a role which he took on in Week 7 against the Browns, his first action after suffering a season-ending knee injury of his own last summer. That continued through much of the Ravens’ TNF win against the Buccaneers, but the 27-year-old injured his hamstring in that game. Fortunately, that new ailment is believed to be minor, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeting that Edwards is expected to miss no more than one game.
The Ravens also exited their Week 8 contest without their top two pass-catchers. Tight end Mark Andrewswas dealing with a knee injury in advance of the contest, but had to leave due to a shoulder issue. As Harbaugh indicated today, however, the All-Pro is not expected to be dealing with anything serious (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley). That news is particularly encouraging given the latest update on the team’s top receiver.
Rashod Batemanis facing a foot injury which dates back to earlier in the year. The 2021 first-rounder was sidelined for Weeks 5 and 6, but returned during the following game. On Thursday, however, he re-aggravated the injury after seeing limited snaps and failing to receive a target against the Buccaneers. Harbaugh said (via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, on Twitter) that Bateman’s situation is worse than initially thought, and that he will now likely miss “multiple weeks.” That will place further emphasis on the team’s other receivers, a group which now includesDeSean Jackson.
Baltimore visits the Saints to close out Week 9, then has their bye week, which could allow the team to get healthier on the offensive side of the ball. Doing so would no doubt go a long way to improving the chances of a run to the postseason in the second half of the campaign.
Immediately following the news that their lead running back will be sidelined due to knee surgery, the Ravens are set to get another key member of their backfield in action. The team announced on Saturday that Gus Edwardshas been activated from the PUP list.
The former UDFA has put up nearly identical numbers across each of his first three seasons in the league. His yardage totals have ranged between 711 and 723, while averaging no fewer than 5.0 yards per carry during each campaign. That consistency led to expectations that he could emerge as one of the league’s premier backups last year, but a preseason ACL tear cost him the entire 2021 campaign.
The injury sidelined Edwards for the first of his three-year deal signed earlier that summer. Given the degree to which the Ravens were impacted by his absence, along with that of starter J.K. Dobbins, it came as no surprise that the team has proceeded with caution in bringing both of them back.
With the latter having just suffered a new knee injury, though, the wait for both he and Edwards to be on the field together will continue. Dobbins has been placed on IR, meaning that he will miss at least the next month. He flashed plenty of potential as a rookie, but had yet to take on a workhorse role in his four games upon return this season.
While Dobbins being sidelined will open the door to a number of carries for Edwards, it remains to be seen how many touches he will receive in his first game since the 2020 postseason. Veterans Kenyan Drake– who assumed RB1 duties last week after Dobbins’ injury occurred – and Mike Daviswill be options in the backfield. Justice Hill is also expected to play on Sunday, after he missed the last two games.
Following even more turnover in their RBs room, the Ravens will look to maintain their lead in the AFC North in a divisional game against the Browns.
The Ravens will start Gus Edwards‘ activation clock, marking a good sign for his near-future availability. Edwards will return to practice this week, John Harbaugh said.
From the point Edwards begins practicing, Baltimore will have 21 days to move him from the reserve/PUP list to its 53-man roster. If that does not happen during this timeframe, the fifth-year running back will miss the 2022 season. While the Ravens saw an activation window close last year (Derek Wolfe‘s), Edwards has been trending in the right direction for a bit. The oft-used backup said in mid-September he was close to a return from the ACL tear that wiped out his 2021 slate.
This news does come after Justice Hill suffered a hamstring injury that Harbaugh confirmed will cause the well-performing backup to miss time, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter). With Edwards and J.K. Dobbins‘ recoveries from full-season injuries generating most of the publicity this position group produced this offseason, Hill also returned after missing all of 2021. Hill’s Achilles tear suffered just before last season made the Ravens the rare team to lose its top three backs for an entire season.
Dobbins has been a bit slower to bounce back, but Hill has played well since returning. The 2019 fourth-round pick, whom the Ravens waived with an injury designation in September 2021, is averaging 6.6 yards per carry (19 totes, 125 yards) and has been the team’s top non-Lamar Jackson rusher. After being largely a nonfactor in the Ravens’ backfield during his first two seasons, Hill could be a key cog for the injury-plagued group. But he will need more rehab time, which reopens the door for Edwards to make an immediate impact.
Edwards, 27, has averaged at least five yards per handoff in all three of his healthy seasons, and the Ravens rewarded him with a three-year, $12.38MM extension in June 2021. As the Ravens await Edwards’ first game on that deal, Dobbins continues to be steadily reintegrated after returning from his extensive set of injuries. Dobbins has 20 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown in two games. The Ravens have Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis in place as Dobbins’ backups.