Ravens’ J.K. Dobbins Eligible to Return vs. Steelers

JK Dobbins

Patrick Smith/Getty Images Running back J.K. Dobbins of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by defensive end Isaiah Buggs of the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 01, 2020.

It’s only 19 hours, but delaying the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game a third time—from Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon—is likely to be enough time for two mission-critical Ravens players to return to Baltimore’s lineup.

According to a report from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, rookie running back J.K. Dobbins and fellow RB Mark Ingram are both going to be eligible to return for the Ravens on Wednesday, as their 10-day COVID-19 isolation period will be over.

If both are activated, Baltimore will have its top three running backs available, after it seemed they would have to play the Steelers with just one of the three.

It’s a pivotal development, for two reasons. One is that the Ravens will still be without starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, potentially placing even more of a premium on the success of Baltimore’s running game.

The other is that the Ravens (6-4) ran all over the Steelers (10-0) in the November 1st game between the two teams, with Dobbins and Edwards accounting for 200 yards rushing between them. (Mark Ingram did not play because of an ankle injury.)

Baltimore’s Three-Headed Rushing Attack

Early in the season, Baltimore utilized its top three running backs in almost equal doses. Tenth-year back Mark Ingram has the fewest carries (57), yards (232) and touchdowns (2), but he has also missed two games.

For his part, Gus Edwards has the most carries (85 for 376 yards and three touchdowns), yet its J.K. Dobbins—the team’s second-round draft pick (Ohio State)—who has recently emerged as the team’s No. 1 back, thanks to his 5.3 yards per carry average and three touchdowns.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated as much during his press conference on November 23rd, noting that the most significant change since the two teams played in early November–a 28-24 Steelers victory–is that Dobbins is now getting more playing time.

J.K. Dobbins: Baltimore’s New Feature Back?

“It’s obvious that he is their featured runner now, so there are some things to combat in regards to that,” noted Tomlin. “His run style is a little bit different than Ingram; he has more of a perimeter game, at least in terms of their use of him. He’s got some breakaway speed that needs to be contended with; he had a significant game against us last time. It’s appropriate that we respond and work to minimize his impact.”

The Steelers will want to do that, because Dobbins rushed for 113 yards on only 15 carries on November 1st (7.5 yards per carry). Gus Edwards didn’t do too badly either, getting 16 carries for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Never mind that Baltimore’s backup quarterback, Robert Griffin III, has always been a running threat in his own right, averaging 5.8 yards per carry over the course of his nine-year NFL career.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that a strong running game—combined with turnover-free play—is the key to Baltimore pulling off an upset victory at Heinz Field on Wednesday afternoon.

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