Just over a week after J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending injury, Ravens backup running Justice Hill tore his Achilles and will also miss the entire 2021 season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. With another running back slated to miss the entire season, the Ravens worked out several running backs on Monday that included former All-Pro Le'Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman.
While he was scarcely used last season, Hill was expected to carry a heavier workload, especially given Dobbins' recent injury. The Ravens still have two of their three leading rushers from last season in quarterback Lamar Jackson (1,005 yards) and veteran Gus Edwards (805 yards). Edwards is slated to open the season as Baltimore's starting running back, with rookie Ty'Son Williams playing behind him.
A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro with the Steelers, Bell has remained unsigned since the start of free agency. The 29-year-old had just 328 rushing yards and two touchdowns last season while playing for the Jets and Chiefs. Bell had just two carries for 6 yards during the 2020 postseason and did not play in the Chiefs' Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers.
Bell was considered the NFL's most versatile back from 2014-17. During that span, the former Michigan State Spartan set Steelers franchise records for the most catches by a running back in a single season (85), receiving yards by a running back (854), most total yards by a Steelers rookie running back (1,259), most yards rushing in a regular-season game (236 vs. the Bills in 2016) and the two highest rushing totals in a postseason game (167 vs. the Dolphins in the 2016 wild card round and 170 vs. the Chiefs in the divisional round). Bell's efforts earned him team MVP honors in 2014 and in 2016.
Contract disputes led to Bell sitting out the entire 2018 season. In 2019, he signed a multiyear deal with the Jets, who released him last October. Despite his lack of success upon leaving the Steelers, Bell said during Super Bowl week that he did not regret how he handled his exit from Pittsburgh.
"Oh, no. That never crossed my mind," Bell said when asked about his decision to sit out a year during his prime. "I feel like me sitting out, I look at it like it helped me on the back end of my career. When I came back (in 2019), I felt like I was a rookie all over again. I was so excited to get back on the field and really just get my gatherings back. It kind of reset my body. I feel like it's going to help elongate my career."
In Baltimore, Bell would be reunited with former Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. Villanueva compared Bell to Jackson when asked about his desire to sign with Pittsburgh's archrival.
"There are certain players in the NFL that truly inspire you to get the best out of you because you see how rare the talent is," Villanueva said back in May. "I felt that when I was playing with Le'Veon Bell. You always felt energized as an offensive lineman to continue to give your best for that player. I don't think there's a doubt in anyone's mind that when you watch Lamar Jackson play, you want to do everything for him, protect him and continue to see the magic that he displays on the field.
"Not only does it make the game of football incredibly fun for the fans and for everybody out there, but it also lets you win a lot of football games."