Ravens Make Veteran RB Signing After Keaton Mitchell Lands on IR

Keaton Mitchell

Getty The Baltimore Ravens moved quickly to sign a veteran replacement after running back Keaton Mitchell landed on IR.

Sticking with who they already know suits the Baltimore Ravens after running back Keaton Mitchell landed on injured reserve. The news was followed by the team signing Melvin Gordon III from the practice squad on Tuesday, December 19.

Those transactions were confirmed by Ravens.com staff writer Clifton Brown. He also revealed how the Ravens replaced Gordon on the practice squad with 2021 seventh round NFL draft pick Jake Funk.

Gordon moving up was necessary after Mitchell’s promising rookie season came to an end in Week 15. The undrafted free agent tore his ACL during the 23-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Gordon’s presence means the Ravens will be well covered in the backfield. He’s a former 1,000-yard runner with 55 rushing touchdowns to his credit.

The 30-year-old is also somebody the Ravens have turned to for help covering injuries in the past.

Melvin Gordon III in a Familiar Position With Ravens

Gordon found himself called up after Week 1 following J.K. Dobbins tearing his Achilles against the Houston Texans. As Brown noted, Gordon “was elevated for three games, rushing for 53 yards on 13 carries. His last game action was Week 4 against the Browns when he carried three times for 22 yards and caught one pass for 23 yards.”

The Ravens know what they’re getting in Gordon. Head coach John Harbaugh dubbed the veteran “a high-pedigree football player in this league. It’s almost kind of shocking that we’re going to have the opportunity to put him into the mix right now, and he’s been wanting to be into the mix,” per Brown.

That pedigree comes from four seasons with 900-plus yards rushing. Those numbers, along with a nose for the end zone, helped Gordon earn Pro Bowl honors in 2016 and ’18.

He’s found it hard to get on the field consistently in recent seasons, but Gordon’s still a proven commodity. One who can help the Ravens maintain a prolific ground attack that gashed the Jags for 251 yards, earning Baltimore a piece of NFL history in the process, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley (h/t ESPN Stats & Info).

Mitchell accounted for 73 of those yards and was offering further proof of his dynamic talents before injury struck.

Keaton Mitchell Was on His Way to a Breakout Season

The timing of Mitchell’s injury was cruel to say the least. He was well on his way to a breakout campaign that began with 138 yards against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9.

Mitchell was catching defenses cold with shifty moves and acceleration. Those qualities made the former East Carolina standout a “home-run” threat on “cutback” runs, according to Ryan Mink of Ravens.com.

Gordon won’t offer the same breakaway speed. Nor will Gus Edwards, but Justice Hill can break long gains on the outside.

This experienced trio should keep the Ravens dominant on the deck. Edwards and Hill helped carry the load when the “Ravens had over 200 yards rushing” after halftime against Jacksonville, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

The efforts of Edwards and Hill were supplemented by Lamar Jackson rushing for 97 yards. Having the NFL’s best dual-threat quarterback lead the running game is the main reason the Ravens will continue to move the ball well on the ground, even though Mitchell’s field-stretching potential was an asset.

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