Unheralded RB Named Ravens ‘Best-Kept Secret’

Ravens kneel during national anthem.

Getty A member of the Ravens' backfield has been named the "best-kept secret" on the roster.

The running back rotation became something of a who’s who for the Baltimore Ravens last season. Injuries forced the team to cast a wide net and rely on much-travelled veterans Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray to handle the load.

Things should be different this year, now J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are on the mend. They both missed the 2021 campaign thanks to torn ACLs.

When healthy, Edwards and Dobbins are a formidable one-two punch, even if some around the league fail to acknowledge the talent. Some observers are paying attention, though, and one NFL writer has named a member of this unheralded duo as the “best-kept secret” on the Ravens’ roster.

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One-Dimensional Back Due More Praise

In his list of the hidden gems on every roster around the league, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton named Gus Edwards as the Ravens player worthy of more praise.

Moton noted how consistent Edwards has been, despite limited playing time: “Edwards hasn’t started in more than six games in any of his four seasons, though he led the Baltimore Ravens in rushing for 2018 (718 yards) and accumulated at least 711 yards on the ground in each of his first three terms.”

Edwards, who tore his ACL during an ill-fated practice session last September, that also cost the Ravens shutdown cornerback Marcus Peters, had tended to make the most of any carries he got, per Ian Hartitz of PFF Fantasy Football:

An average yards per rushing attempt in the five-plus yards bracket should command respect. Yet, Moton pinpointed why one-dimensional Edwards is so often overlooked: “Edwards may not get a ton of praise because he’s not heavily involved in the passing game (18 receptions for 194 yards in three years). Furthermore, if healthy, Dobbins, who’s a 2020 second-rounder, will likely lead the backfield in carries and touches.”

Catching passes doesn’t need to be Edwards’ forte if Dobbins can get healthy this offseason. The latter was Baltimore’s second-round pick in 2020 and amassed 925 total yards as a rookie, before tearing his ACL on preseason duty last year.

Dobbins is an able body for the passing game, but Edwards is the bludgeoning rusher perfect for coordinator Greg Roman’s offense.

Strength of the Ravens’ Offense Remains on the Ground

Roman has never been shy about skewing his play-calling heavily toward the running game. The Ravens offense will continue in the same vein in 2022, and the reasons why are obvious.

Lamar Jackson may be playing for a new and lucrative contract extension, but the quarterback still lacks a true No. 1 wide receiver. General manager Eric DeCosta’s decision to trade Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for a first-round draft pick means Jackson will rely on other position groups for the bulk of the Ravens’ big plays.

All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews will do his bit, but the success of Baltimore’s offense will depend on the health of Dobbins and Edwards. Head coach John Harbaugh was non-committal when asked in March about exactly when the pair will return to full action this offseason.

The Ravens are tough to stop when both are on the field, like on this play against the New York Giants from 2020, highlighted by ESPN’s Matt Bowen:

It shows the effective contrast in styles of both backs. Dobbins is the speedster who carries a game-breaking threat, while Edwards is the power back few defenders relish trying to tackle.

The Ravens obviously value Edwards’ somewhat old-fashioned qualities. That’s why they gave him a two-year contract extension worth $10 million a year ago.

If he’s fully up to speed this term, 27-year-old Edwards should post career-high numbers and power the run-first Ravens back into the playoffs.

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