Ravens head coach John Harbaugh praised Collins for his performance during the 2017 season, but stopped short of naming the running back the team's starter heading into 2018, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports. "I'm looking to upgrade everything. We're going to look to have the best running-back group we can," Harbaugh said Thursday.
A surprise cut by the Seahawks out of training camp, Collins landed with the Ravens' practice squad soon after and earned a promotion to the 53-man roster ahead of Week 2 after Danny Woodhead (hamstring) was moved to injured reserve. Though ball security was occasionally an issue, Collins proved to be the team's most effective ballcarrier, finishing the campaign 212 carries for 973 yards (4.6 average) and six touchdowns. Woodhead, Javorius Allen and a rehabbing Kenneth Dixon (knee) are all under contract for 2018 and possess skill sets than have made them useful over their respective NFL careers, but unless the Ravens add another option to the backfield via free agency or the draft, Collins looks poised to enter training camp as the team's No. 1 option.
Collins rushed 20 times for 78 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 18 yards in Sunday's 31-27 loss to the Bengals.
The 78 rushing yards are Collins' highest total since Week 14 and the 20 carries tied his season high. The 23-year-old's 17-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the Ravens' answer to a Bengals defensive touchdown, at the time keeping Baltimore's playoff hopes alive. The loss eliminated the Ravens regardless, but Collins bursting onto the scene to earn the role of the team's feature back this season is one of the better stories of the 2017 season.
Collins rushed for 51 yards on 18 carries and added 15 yards on three catches during Saturday's 23-16 win over the Colts. He fumbled during the contest.
Collins' had a nice little hot streak running from Weeks 11 to 14, averaging 98 total yards per game and scoring five total touchdowns. He's slowed since, with just 118 total yards over the last two weeks. The Arkansas product has failed to top four yards per carry in five of his last seven games, but finds himself in a good position as the lead back in one of the league's most run-heavy offenses. He also gets the benefit of closing out the season against a weak Cincinnati rush defense in Week 17. The Bengals have given up a league worst 131.5 rushing yards per game heading into Week 16.
Javorius Allen's increased workload (13 carries) may have created some concern, but it seems the Ravens were merely trying to preserve Collins for more competitive scenarios. Collins actually held a 12-3 advantage over this teammate before Allen took the final 10 carries of the game. It is possible the Ravens find themselves in a similar situation this Saturday against the Colts, but Collins should at least have more early success in a better matchup. He's been healthy all season with the exception of some migraines, an on-and-off issue that's yet to cost him a game.
Collins gained 19 yards on 12 carries and 33 yards on five receptions (eight targets) in Sunday's 27-10 win over the Browns.
Javorius Allen had a team-high 13 carries for 70 yards, but Collins actually held a 12-3 advantage before Allen took the final 10 carries of the game. The final stat line was rather unusual, with Baltimore's lead back unable to continue his strong work on the ground but unexpectedly finishing second on the team in targets. One down game shouldn't impact Collins' status as the lead back, particularly after he enjoyed two of his best games this season in Weeks 13 and 14. He'll have a nice chance to bounce back in a Week 16 home game against the struggling Colts.
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