The Baltimore Ravens have potentially lost their top three running backs for the season over the span of the past two weeks to torn ACLs. It was starter, second-year back J.K. Dobbins who went down first. Earlier this week, Justice Hill also tore his ACL, which prompted the team to host a number of free agent running backs.
Yesterday, Gus Edwards also suffered an injury, which is believed to be a torn ACL as well. That leaves them with Ty’Son Williams, a first-year player out of Brigham Young, as their lead back. But they’ve since added Le’Veon Bell, and more recently, Devonta Freeman, to the practice squad, and they will inevitably be brought up.
Another running back they’ve spoken to is Latavius Murray, just cut by the New Orleans Saints. With yet another injury in their backfield, they reportedly intend to sign him as well, almost entirely remaking their running back depth chart within a week of the start of the regular season.
Within the span of the past two weeks, the Ravens’ running back depth chart has flipped from Dobbins, Edwards, Hill, and Williams, to Williams, Bell, Freeman, and Murray. They’ve also signed fourth-year pro Trenton Cannon to the 53-man roster.
For an offense that has such a run-heavy focus, it’s going to be a challenge to virtually replace your entire running back room, especially so close to the start of the regular season. Names like Bell, Freeman, and Murray would be nice…about five years ago. But it’s difficult to say what they will add this year.
This also comes amid shakeup along the offensive line, most notably with the departure of Orlando Brown Jr. from right tackle. He was replaced with Alejandro Villanueva, the former Steeler, who is not familiar with playing on the right side, nor is he known for his run-blocking prowess.
Meanwhile, left tackle Ronnie Stanley is coming off of an ACL injury of his own, and Bradley Bozeman is moving from guard to center. Kevin Zeitler, a former first-round pick (and former Brown and Bengal), is their new right guard. The left guard position has been one in flux, but appears to have settled on Tyre Phillips, a second-year player who did start several games last season.
Of course, the Ravens’ run game is, first and foremost, predicated upon a scheme constructed by offensive coordinator Greg Roman and built around the mobility of quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons, leading the team in rushing.
We’re about to find out just how fungible running backs can be based on how effective the Ravens’ run game will be after losing their top three backs three weeks ahead of the start of the regular season.