Sunday, June 26, 2022

Unannounced RB called Ravens ‘best kept secret’

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The running back rotation became the who’s who of the Baltimore Ravens last season. Injuries forced the team to cast a wide net, relying on well-travelled veterans Devonta Freeman and Latavius ​​Murray to help handle the load.

This year should be different, now JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards are on the mend. Both missed the 2021 campaign thanks to torn ACLs.

When healthy, Edwards and Dobbins are an impressive one-two, even if some in the league don’t recognize the talent. However, some observers are paying attention, and one NFL writer has dubbed one member of this unannounced duo the “best kept secret” on the Ravens’ roster.

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In his list of hidden gems in every roster in the league, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton named Gus Edwards as the Ravens player who deserves more praise.

Moton noted how consistent Edwards has been despite limited playing time: “Edwards has not started in more than six games in any of his four seasons, although he led the Baltimore Ravens in rushing for 2018 (718 yards) and rallied at least 711 yards on the ground in each of his first three terms.”

Edwards, who tore his ACL during an ill-fated training session last September that also cost Ravens shutdown cornerback Marcus Peters, had tended to make the most of any carry he got, per PFF Fantasy Football’s Ian Hartitz:

An average yards per rush attempt in the five-plus-yards bracket should inspire respect. However, Moton explained why the one-dimensional Edwards is so often overlooked: “Edwards may not get much praise because he’s not heavily involved in the passing game (18 receptions for 194 yards in three years). If he’s healthy, Dobbins, who’s runner-up for 2020, will likely lead the backfield in carries and touches.”

Pass catching doesn’t have to be Edwards’ forte if Dobbins can recover this offseason. The latter was Baltimore’s second-round pick of 2020 and streaked for 925 yards as a rookie before tearing his cruciate ligament in preseason duty last year.

Dobbins is a capable body for the passing game, but Edwards is the bludgeoning rusher perfect for coordinator Greg Roman’s offense.

Roman has never been shy about heavily biasing his play-calling towards the game in progress. The Ravens’ offense will continue in the same vein in 2022, and the reasons are clear.

Lamar Jackson may be playing for a new and lucrative contract extension, but the quarterback is still missing a true No. 1 wide receiver. General Manager Eric DeCosta’s decision act Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for a first-round draft pick means Jackson will be relying on other position groups for the majority of the Ravens’ big games.

All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews will contribute, but the success of Baltimore’s offense will depend on the health of Dobbins and Edwards. Head coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal when asked in March exactly when the pair will return to full action this offseason.

The Ravens are difficult to stop when both are on the field, as in this 2020 game against the New York Giants highlighted by ESPN’s Matt Bowen:

It shows the effective contrast in the styles of both backs. Dobbins is the speedster that packs a game-changing threat, while Edwards is the powerback that few defenders are keen to take on.

The Ravens obviously appreciate Edward’s somewhat old-fashioned qualities. So they gave him one two-year contract extension valued at $10 million a year ago.

If he’s at his best this season, the 27-year-old should set Edwards career highs and propel the run-first Ravens back into the playoffs.

The Ravens obviously appreciate Edward’s somewhat old-fashioned qualities. So they gave him one two-year contract extension valued at $10 million a year ago.

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