Baltimore Ravens second-year running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending torn ACL in last night’s preseason victory over the Washington Football Team, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated first reported that the Ravens believed the injury was “indeed serious,” and an MRI confirmed the worst for Dobbins today.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo followed up the diagnosis with news that Dobbins may have damage to his LCL along with his torn ACL.
The former Ohio State Buckeye went down after catching a screen pass and getting tackled in the first quarter of yesterday’s game and had to be carted off the field.
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The injury is extremely disappointing for the Ravens and their fanbase, as Dobbins was frequently mentioned as a breakout candidate for the 2021 season following a rookie season that saw him overtake Mark Ingram on the depth chart.
Dobbins’ agent responded to the news, tweeting “Been down this road before. He’ll come back bigger stronger faster,” after posting this message last night.
Head coach John Harbaugh drew criticism for playing Dobbins and other starters, including Lamar Jackson in the first quarter against Washington, especially given the injury-laden history of the turf at Fedex Field. Harbaugh’s decision is particularly notable given his previous support of abolishing preseason games to protect players from injuries.
Neither Dobbins nor the team have released a statement, but the running back is expected to be placed on injured reserve ahead of the August 31 53-man roster deadline.
The injury will impact the Ravens’ roster construction; while they have enough depth to withstand the loss of Dobbins, they may look to add a veteran back from free agency.
Edwards Ready to Step Up as RB1
Dobbins shared the top running back spot on the depth chart with Gus Edwards, a 2018 undrafted free agent who emerged as a perfect complement to Lamar Jackson in the duo’s rookie season.
Edwards is more than prepared to take on a larger role in the offense, as he has been one of the most efficient running backs in the league since he broke out alongside Jackson in 2018. Since his rookie year, he ranks fifth in both yards per attempt and rushing grade, per Pro Football Focus.
Edwards signed a two-year, $10 million extension in June, a deal that could look like a steal following Dobbins’ injury.
The fourth-year back earned the nickname ‘Gus the Bus’ for his punishing, downhill running style, rocking a chain in tribute to his moniker against the Carolina Panthers on August 21.
Ty’Son Williams is expected to move into the RB2 spot after overtaking Justice Hill with his standout preseason play. Their battle to make the roster had been a highlight of training camp, but with Dobbins out for the year, both will likely make the roster.
Hill did sit out on Saturday due to an ankle sprain, so depending on his health, undrafted rookie Nate McCrary could be in the mix to make the team as well.
Ravens Could Pursue Gurley, Other Free Agent RBs
Observers were quick to note that former Rams and Falcons running back Todd Gurley visited the Ravens in June, as first reported by Rapoport, suggesting that the Ravens could have renewed interest in the two-time All-Pro.
The former Georgia Bulldog emerged as one of the league’s top backs with the Rams, winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and NFL Offensive Player of the year in 2017. He has struggled with injuries in recent years, leaving him a free agent despite being only 27 years old.
While he certainly couldn’t replace Dobbins’ production, Gurley would bring experience in the passing game to a Ravens offense that can use reliable targets wherever they can find them. His pass protection and route running ability would be valuable in Baltimore.
Other available free agents include LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore and Le’Veon Bell.
Peterson and Gore are still consistent backs, despite their age (36 and 38 years old, respectively), but the Ravens may look for more versatility in the passing game from McCoy or Bell.
Tuesday’s roster cut deadline could produce a few other options for the Ravens at running back, but they may give their younger backs an opportunity early in the season before reevaluating a free agent addition.