Gus Edwards still runs with a bulldozer mentality, willing to run over opponents if he can’t run around them. However, the 2019 version of “Gus the Bus” is sleeker, yet still powerful.
“My body fat fell down a lot more than it was last year,” the Ravens’ second-year running back said. “A lot of people have been telling me I look better. I really didn’t change my diet much.”
Edwards says he weighs the same as last season, but his body is trimmer, down to six percent body fat from nine percent last year. It’s all part of his plan to build off his impressive rookie season.
Helping the Ravens make the playoffs with a 6-1 record down the stretch, Edwards was the team’s most-productive running back during the second half of the season, finishing with 718 yards rushing, which included three 100-yard games.
Despite that success, Edwards faces new competition for playing time in the Ravens’ deep backfield rotation. The Ravens signed veteran Mark Ingram during free agency and drafted Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill in the fourth round to join Edwards and Kenneth Dixon, not to mention others hoping to make the roster.
All the backs have different styles, and Edwards believes they will all bring the best out of each other. Edwards wasn’t surprised the Ravens signed Ingram, and the two have already bonded during OTAs.
“I was happy about it,” Edwards said. “I knew the situation beforehand. [Running backs] Coach [Matt Weiss] told me they were going to bring a veteran in. Mark is a great opportunity for me. He’s a guy that’s not selfish, who is going to help me get better. I can learn a lot from him, so it’s an opportunity for me to get better.”
One of Edwards’ goals is to become more involved in the passing game as a receiver. He only caught two passes for 20 yards last season. He wasn’t a major receiving option in college either, but did haul in 13 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown his senior year at Rutgers.
Edwards caught several passes, including a “game-winning” touchdown pass during the first OTA session that was open to the media, and worked hard in the offseason on that part of his game.
“I’m just trying to make improvement, be more a part of the passing game, do more for the team,” Edwards said. “The experience I got last year slowed down the game for me, especially pass protection. I noticed that right away as soon as we got back for OTAs.”
If the Ravens can trust Edwards in pass protection more, that will open up more opportunities for him to also go out on a route.
Edwards spent part of the offseason training in Miami with Pete Bommarito (Bommarito Performance Systems), where running backs Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets) and David Williams (Jacksonville Jaguars) also trained. Edwards kept an eye on Bell – on of the best receiving running backs in the league – and now Edwards can also learn from Ingram, a veteran running back who is well-versed in being effective as both a runner and a receiver.
“Mark has been great,” Edwards said. “Great guy off the field. He likes keeping the group together; he’s really big on that. He set some rules in the meeting room to make sure the competition is at an all-time high.”
Edwards has a quiet demeanor, but he is driven to succeed and is somewhat of perfectionist. Even during lunch at the team facility, Edwards watched film of his practice just minutes after it ended.
“I had a bad play where I dropped the ball,” Edwards said. “So that’s what I was looking at – how it happened so I can try to avoid that.”
But while Edwards wants to be a better receiver, he knows power football remains his strength. Gus “The Bus” still plans on rolling. He just plans to move a little quicker.
“I definitely do feel faster,” Edwards said. “And there’s no losing strength with the lift we do here.”
Step inside a Ravens OTA practice, which included the arrival of veteran safety Earl Thomas.