J.K. Dobbins says he’ll be ready for the start of the 2022 season. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has a source who thinks otherwise. Either way, the Baltimore Ravens aren’t taking any chances.
Dobbins’ health is the key to the revival of the Ravens’ running game. He missed all of last season with a torn ACL, as did fellow running back Gus Edwards.
General manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh are counting on both being available, but that hasn’t stopped them looking for some veteran insurance. Their latest attempts to provide cover involve signing a free-agent runner who has won a Super Bowl and played his part in a legendary trick play.
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Eagles Super Bowl-Winner Joining Ravens
Corey Clement will be a Raven, according to NFL Insider Jordan Schultz:
Clement was one of two free agents who visited with the Ravens on the eve of veterans reporting for training camp on Tuesday, July 26, per Rapoport’s NFL Network colleague, Tom Pelissero:
While Wayne Gallman played some solid football for the New York Giants, former Philadelphia Eagles rotation back Clement is a more intriguing option. He spent last season with the Dallas Cowboys, where Clement averaged 4.2 yards on 33 carries, but his greatest pro successes came with the Eagles.
Signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2017, Clement’s rookie season ended with victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. He played no-small part in the triumph, rushing for 321 yards during the regular season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry and scoring six touchdowns, both career-best totals.
Clement also proved his versatility in the big game against the Pats, by catching four passes for 100 yards, including this touchdown:
Aside from the scoring grab, Clement was also on the field for the “Philly Special,” arguably the most famous trick play in league history. He took the initial snap out of a Wildcat formation, before flipping the ball to backup tight end Trey Burton.
The rest was history for Nick Foles and the Eagles, per Gil Brandt:
Knee and shoulder injuries blighted Clement’s next few seasons, but he managed to prove himself a tough inside runner with some deceptive speed and useful receiving skills.
The Ravens need a back with his skill-set amid the growing uncertainty regarding Dobbins’ status.
Confusion Reigns Over Dobbins’ Availability
Nobody seems to know for sure when Dobbins will ready to go full tilt. The torn ACL he suffered last preseason is a complex problem.
Rapoport got the ball rolling on Monday, July 18, when he reported a source told him “there’s certainly a possibility he (Dobbins) is not ready for Week 1.” Dobbins retweeted Rapoport’s report with a scathing caption which included the phrase “I’m damn sure going to be ready for week 1.”
Although Dobbins said he might avoid the PUP list, an undeterred Rapoport told NFL Total Access that’s exactly where the running back will begin training camp. Dobbins is joined on the list by left tackle Ronnie Stanley, another important starter looking to rebound from a 2021 campaign derailed by injury:
The report about the PUP list makes sense of the decision to add Clements into the fold. Proven insurance is needed in a backfield where Edwards is also recovering from a serious injury, as is Justice Hill, who tore an Achilles tendon last September.
DeCosta has already found a useful veteran in free agency, in the form of Mike Davis. Yet, Davis was barely average last season with the Atlanta Falcons, mustering just 3.6 yards per carry and losing the starting job to converted wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
Counting on 29-year-old Davis to get back to his best was always going to be a gamble. So was hoping this year’s sixth-round pick Tyler Badie can emerge from late-round obscurity into a starting role early on as a rookie.
Those risks were too great while waiting on the recoveries of Dobbins, Edwards and Hill. Dobbins’ complex situation made another signing at running back inevitable.
Clements now gets the chance to make the most of camp and prove he deserves a spot on the final roster at a position where the Ravens can’t afford to be short again.