Ravens Outlook ‘Suddenly Looking Grim’; Le’Veon Bell ‘Next Man Up’?

Le Veon Bell

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images Le'Veon Bell on August 24, 2019.

The regular season hasn’t even started yet and the Baltimore Ravens have already lost their top three running backs to season-ending injuries. On Thursday, while practicing for the team’s Monday night opener against the Las Vegas Raiders, first-string running back Gus Edwards went down with a knee injury, which Adam Schefter of ESPN has since confirmed as a torn ACL.

Edwards’ knee issue prompted Ravens head coach John Harbaugh to halt practice and send his players to the locker room, because just moments earlier the team saw three-time All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters go down with a knee issue of his own. That too, turned out to be a season-ending torn ACL.

“The Ravens’ season of high expectations is suddenly looking grim after two more major injuries,” wrote Jeff Zrebiec, who covers the Ravens for The Athletic. The Peters injury is a massive loss, but Baltimore has depth at cornerback.

Things are particularly bad at running back, though, as the team lost rising star J.K. Dobbins to a torn ACL during the team’s preseason finale against Washington. Five days later, No. 3 running back, Justice Hill, suffered a torn Achilles during practice.

Le’Veon Bell to the Rescue?

That means Ty’Son Williams, 25, a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young, looks to be in line to be Baltimore’s feature back in the season-opener. (Williams is expected to make his regular-season debut against the Raiders.)

On Monday—and beyond—the Ravens could also turn to former Pittsburgh Steelers/New York Jets/Kansas City Chiefs running back Le’Veon Bell, who was signed to the team’s practice squad on Wednesday and had his first practice with the Ravens on Thursday. In May, Bell promised that this season would be a comeback year for him; who knew that he would be this close to a starting role in the NFL less than four months later.

Another option is Trenton Cannon, 27, a former sixth-round pick of the New York Jets (2018) who has 48 career carries but figures to be more of a change of pace back/special teamer. Cannon also practiced with the Ravens for the first time on Thursday.

One final option is former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who played for the New York Giants in 2020 and spent the summer with the New Orleans Saints. Freeman was signed to Baltimore’s practice squad on Thursday.

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The Ravens Were No. 1 in the NFL in Rushing Last Year

Regardless, it now seems highly unlikely that the Ravens will remain the NFL’s No. 1 rushing team for the third year in a row, even with a thousand-yard rusher at quarterback in Lamar Jackson (1,005 yards in 2020).

So far this year the Ravens have lost a total of four players to torn ACLs, including former Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort, who suffered his injury on August 21st.

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