Ravens Urged to Sign Ex-Rushing Champion to Replace Injured J.K. Dobbins

Kareem Hunt

Getty The Baltimore Ravens could sign a former NFL rushing champion to replace J.K. Dobbins.

J.K. Dobbins tearing his Achilles against the Houston Texans in Week 1 has left the Baltimore Ravens with reduced numbers in the running game. While head coach John Harbaugh said he was happy with his team’s current options in the backfield, he could still sign a former NFL rushing champion in free agency.

That’s just what Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine suggested the Ravens should do after Dobbins’ season-ending injury left “a big hole in the depth chart.” Ballentine wrote on September 11 that ex-Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns star Kareem Hunt would assume “a significant role in an intriguing offense.”

Even though the Ravens won without Dobbins on the field, Ballentine wasn’t impressed by what his replacements produced: “Justice Hill responded with two touchdowns on the ground, but he had only nine yards on eight carries. Gus Edwards was the most efficient back with 32 yards on eight carries. It might be time to give Kareem Hunt a call.”

The Ravens have options besides Hill and Edwards, but Hunt may be more of an upgrade based on how his versatile skill-set would suit a more expansive offense called by coordinator Todd Monken.

Old Rival Offers Versatility Ravens’ Offense Needs

Hunt topped the league’s rushing charts as a rookie for the Chiefs back in 2017, and while he’s never replicated that form on the ground, the veteran has maintained value in other areas. Specifically, Hunt has remained a flexible and competent receiver, tallying 211 catches for 1,806 yards during his career.

The veteran can showcase his chops as a pass-catcher from multiple spots, like splitting out at wide receiver. That’s where Hunt was during this practice session for the Browns from 2022, highlighted by clevelanddotcom.

Monken could use those skills after regularly making running backs weapons in the passing game during his stint at Georgia. Kenny McIntosh made 43 receptions during Monken’s final season calling plays for the Bulldogs in 2022.

McIntosh also rushed for 10 touchdowns, red-zone efficiency that Hunt could match in a Ravens uniform. Hunt’s scored 48 touchdowns since entering the pros and was often the Browns’ go-to option at the goal line, despite the presence of All-Pro Nick Chubb.

Hunt showed his talent as a closer on this short-yardage plunge to score against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5, highlighted by Pro Football Culture.

Bringing in Hunt could be a cost-effective move, according to CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo: “Given the current climate regarding running back salaries, it’s safe to say that Hunt will not come close to receiving his market value.”

The Ravens are used to finding a bargain on the veteran running back market, with Flock Fantasy’s Mason Dodd naming Hunt and Leonard Fournette as potentially next in line.

Ravens in a Strong Position

There’s a reason Harbaugh said he wouldn’t dip into the market for running back help. It’s the same reason the Ravens promoted Melvin Gordon III from the practice squad.

Gordon’s joining Edwards and Hill means the Ravens remain amply stocked in the backfield even after Dobbins’ injury. The trio can cover all the bases for Monken, with Edwards a tough grinder between the tackles, Hill offering speed off the edge and a nose for the end zone, and Gordon a useful receiver with a knack for finding pay dirt.

This rushing contingent can do enough to support an offense more reliant on quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s arm talent this season. Monken is expanding the passing game around the talents of wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers.

While things were inconsistent against the Texans, there were glimpses of what the new-look air attack can achieve — exciting snapshots like this connection between Jackson and OBJ.

If Beckham, Flowers and fellow wideouts Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor keep making plays, the Ravens won’t be reliant on the run. They also won’t need to bring in a big-name back like Hunt.

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