Instead of preparing for the 2021 season, Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins is now getting ready for rehab and rehabilitation after tearing his ACL during Baltimore's preseason finale. The second-year running back will miss the entire 2021 season.
While the injury is a setback, Dobbins is determined to have a successful comeback. The former Ohio State standout made that clear via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.
I appreciate all the love and support, it means the world to me 💜 I’ll be back and I’ll be back better than ever…. James 1:12— Jk dobbins (@Jkdobbins22) August 31, 2021
The sky was truly the limit for Dobbins in 2021. Following a highly successful rookie season, Dobbins was on CBS Sports' short list of players who could possibly threaten Eric Dickerson's 37-year-old single-season rushing record. Dobbins, who shared Baltimore's workload last season with Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, was certainly looking forward to being the Ravens' featured back this season.
"How much do I want it? Man, let me think," Dobbins told NBC Sports' Peter King prior to his injury. "Let me think of some analogy here. I want that more than a person wants to breathe. I want to be that guy because that's just who I am. I wanna be the best. Why not me? I train with one of the best — Dalvin Cook. We're best buddies. He was second in scrimmage yards in the league last year.
"I'm just thinking, every day I lay my head down, my mind is racing about how to be the best. I went to the same college as Ezekiel Elliott. I had more yards than him. Why not me in the NFL? I want that. I wanna be the bell cow. I wanna be the guy that my teammates look to like, We wanna be on your shoulders. My offensive line is looking at me like, We want this guy to run behind us. I can feel it from them. I've been working hard for it. I think I'm ready for it if that opportunity comes."
Speculation has been high as it relates to how Baltimore will fill the void left by Dobbins' injury. Todd Gurley's name has been floated around in the media, although the team is not expected to pursue the former All-Pro, according to NFL reporter Josina Anderson. In fact, the Ravens do not appear to be in a hurry to add anyone to their current stable of running backs.
"We have full confidence in the rest of the running backs that are here to pick up the load and do a great job for us," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said on Monday, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Despite the loss, the Ravens are better equipped to deal with a loss such as Dobbins' more than any other team. Last season, Baltimore became the first team in league history to run for more than 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Jackson led the way with 1,005 yards while becoming the first quarterback to run for more than 1,000 yards on more than one occasion. Edwards -- who is expected to replace Dobbins as the starter -- rushed for 723 yards while averaging 5 yards per carry.
While Justice Hill is expected to be Edwards' backup, the Ravens have a tough decision to make as it relates to who will round out their depth chart at running back. It appears that that job will go to Ty'Son Williams, a second-year player who spent the majority of his rookie season on Baltimore's practice squad. In three preseason games, Williams rushed 130 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Williams was pushed in camp by rookie Nate McCrary, who ran for 163 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries during the preseason. It is possible that the Ravens keep both players given their reliance on the running game along with the NFL's expanded regular season.
Baltimore feels like it has the depth to shoulder the loss of Dobbins. But that doesn't mean that Dobbins' presence will be easily replaceable. Not only was he expected to carry the load of the Ravens' running game, the former second-round pick had also emerged as a team leader.
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