What are the Ravens Plans at Running Back?

Nov 3, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) reacts following his second quarter touchdown run against the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

As it’s been reported already many times, JK Dobbins will be out for the season with a torn Achilles. Another year, another terrible injury for the Ravens, I’m almost getting used to it now… almost. Now the questions arise about what the Ravens will do to keep the same high expectations they had going into the season.

The good news is that the Ravens will likely have an offense that doesn’t rely on running backs as it has in the past. The Ravens ran the ball 32 times on Sunday for 110 yards, the least amount of rushing yards for them with Lamar at QB since Week 1 last season.

Gus Edwards will take over the starting role, who has averaged 5.1 yards a rush since entering the league in 2018. Edwards has played 17 games as the starting running back and had 1,043 yards, 7 touchdowns, and averaged 4.1 yards a rush in those games. He has proven he can handle the workload as a starting running back while being efficient. Obviously, the Dobbins injury is a huge loss, but I don’t think there will be a big drop-off with Edwards leading the charge.

Justice Hill will most likely take the backup spot. This is where a drop-off is expected to come. With the 2 touchdowns on Sunday, Hill had 8 rushes for 9 yards.

Melvin Gordon is expected to be signed off the practice squad to join the 53-man roster. Gordon had a great early career with the Chargers and a few good seasons with the Broncos. The main thing you think of when you hear his name is of course the fumbles, 26 in his 8-year career. His last efficient season was with Denver in 2021 with 918 yards and 8 touchdowns. If he can somehow get back to that type of production and limit the turnovers, he could take some snaps away from Justice Hill.

Lastly, the Ravens have rookie, Keaton Mitchell, on the IR and can be added to the roster Week 4. Mitchell had a good pre-season and had a great career at East Carolina University. He rushed for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in his 3 years at ECU. This could be a big addition to the backfield, adding even more speed to the already very fast offense. I could even see him move up to the backup spot if Hill and Gordon aren’t able to produce.

Will the Ravens look outside for running backs?

Not likely. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise for the Ravens, as they don’t typically make many trades, especially on offense. There are a couple free agent running backs available that have been successful, Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette. But Harbaugh said to the media, “I like the guys we’ve got,” to the media after losing Dobbins. He went on to say that he is comfortable with his current backfield, but anything could happen.

Jonathan Taylor is a name a lot of people have been throwing out for a possible trade option. Taylor is currently not happy with his situation in Indianapolis and has been added to their PUP list, missing the first 4 games. With how high his price would be, and wanting to get a contract extension included with a trade, I don’t see this happening. Not to mention, he also has dealt with multiple injuries the past few seasons. Baltimore does not like giving up draft picks, and Taylor would cost quite a few.

Ravens running back depth

The Ravens stashed many running backs this past offseason, almost expecting another injury would take place. The only question is if these running backs can produce enough. I have no concern about Gus Edwards, he’s proven himself. Keaton Mitchell I am excited for, but a good pre-season against some backups doesn’t prove much when it comes to a full NFL season. The rest of the running back room is where I get worried.

For this reason, I expect the Ravens to pickup a cheap running back in the coming weeks to put on the practice squad for now. When it gets closer to the trade deadline and teams with big name running backs are selling, I’d like to see Baltimore get in the conversation of acquiring those guys. But for now we wait and see how our current backs can handle this pressure and hopefully reclaim that AFC North crown.

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