Today is the day. And it will happen again, and again. Has to happen. Nice day. Baltimore is a nice town. I love the seafood – crab legs, my favorite. But I’m hungry for something different, now.
What am I hungry for? Football. It’s veteran reporting day, and I am ready.
Also, if you didn’t recognize where the intro was from (albeit modified) I’m not sure I trust you as a human.
This article will break down the running back position for the Ravens. There’ll be one semi-surprise that I’m absolutely positive not everybody will agree with, but this is my article, not yours. So here we go!
Projected starters (Pre-Training Camp)
Mark Ingram II
The starters in Baltimore are pretty clear-cut, and there’s not a whole lot of surprise here, barring injury.
Ingram comes to Baltimore from the New Orleans Saints, where he’s racked up over 6,000 yards and 50 touchdowns on the ground, generally as a tandem back. He’s added another 1,600 yards and five scores through the air, proving himself to be a dual threat – which the Ravens have been missing. He’s solid in pass protection, and brings a veteran presence to a room that otherwise lacks any semblance of it. I’d expect Ingram to be the primary back in Baltimore, even given Gus’ proficiency as a runner in 2018.
Edwards was something of an unknown quantity before he absolutely dominated over the second half of 2018, when he ran 137 times for 718 yards, averaging 5.2 YPC and bowling over defenders along the way. The man had one run go for negative yards the entire regular season. If he works on his hands (only caught two passes for 20 yards in 2018) and shows more dedication to his pass-blocking game, he and Ingram could be a deadly 1-2 punch.
Okay, so hear me out – the Ravens only need one active backup on gameday. And that guy should be Justice Hill, who provides a completely different presence than any other back on the roster. While a bit undersized, Hill is fast. He’s so fast, he makes fast people look…not fast. While he isn’t a willing blocker, I think his home-run ability adds a dimension that isn’t readily available in the backfield at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong – there are definitely areas where he needs to improve, but he provides a scatback presence that the Ravens have been lacking.
This is where people are going to disagree with me, and I will fight every single one of you.
Let’s start with Kenneth Dixon, who won the hearts of the Ravens Flock in his rookie year, when he was among the top backs in terms of breaking tackles. Since then, however, he has been hurt, suspended, suspended while hurt, and carries a bad attitude more than he carries a football. He did have a 5.6 YPC average in 2018, albeit on a limited workload, and has decent – not great – hands, but between his attitude and his questionable durability, I think he looks like a decent trade piece.
Ervin, formerly with the Texans, has to just be a camp body. He’s done next to nothing in the NFL, and I don’t expect him to even sniff the Ravens’ 53-man roster. The same goes with De’Lance Turner, who I’d expect to end up on the practice squad for the second year in a row.
The running game should be a strength of the 2019 Ravens, especially with Lamar Jackson pulling a defender off of the backs with the threat of his legs on a play action or rollout. Mark Ingram’s numbers are eerily similar to Le’Veon Bell’s over the past four or five years, for a fraction of the cost. Gus Edwards has a chance to prove that he’s not just another Forsett/West/Collins, and be more than a flash in the pan. The Ravens have an opportunity to gain a mid-round pick by trading Dixon.
All in all, Ravens fans should feel confident that, even if they lack star power in the wide receiver room, the same cannot be said of the running back group.