The Baltimore Ravens absorbed a gut punch to their offense over the weekend with the loss of J.K. Dobbins, and they now must sift through various possibilities for who'll line up beside Lamar Jackson this season. After an outstanding rookie campaign in which he averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2020, Dobbins is out for the season due to a knee injury suffered in a preseason game Saturday against the Washington Football Team.
In the Ravens' offense, replacing Dobbins isn't a job for one, according to coach John Harbaugh.
"The way we run our offense, we want to roll backs. We want to play multiple backs. We have a lot of carries, so those guys do a lot in the offense," Harbaugh said Monday. "It's not like it's gonna be one running back that takes all of the reps for us. We need three backs active every game, we're gonna need a back or two on the practice squad that's ready to go, so that's kind of how we operate."
That's a diplomatic way to downplay Dobbins' injury; he was the most explosive and most promising rusher in the club's RB room. But it's also an accurate way to describe how the Ravens roll at the position. Indeed, the NFL's best rushing attack last year, at 192 yards per game, operated by committee. It starts with Jackson, who led the club with 1,055 yards as the game's most dynamic rusher at the quarterback position. Dobbins ran for 805, Gus Edwards added 723, and Mark Ingram chipped in 299. Ingram has since moved on, but the club has Justice Hill, Ty’Son Williams and rookie Nate McCrary rounding out the unit entering Tuesday's deadline for a roster cut to 53 players.
Might the Ravens turn to the trading block or another team's scrap heap for a new acquisition? Harbaugh wouldn't dispel the notion.
"That's true for every position," Harbaugh said. "It's not like any position that we're not going to be looking for opportunity to improve. Obviously, that's a conversation because of J.K.'s injury. I wouldn't say I'd be surprised if there was a back that came available that was better than what we have for us, but if that were to be the case or some veteran out there made sense, I'm sure we'd do it. Whatever we can do to make our team better, we'll do."
If the Ravens are to remain the league's best running team, such a move might have to be made.