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Late for Work: Derrick Henry Motivated to Be Piece That Propels Ravens to Super Bowl Win

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs for yardage during their NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs for yardage during their NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.

Derrick Henry Motivated to Be Piece That Propels Ravens to Super Bowl Win

New Ravens running back Derrick Henry sat down with former NFL players Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor, and Channing Crowder for an in-depth interview on "The Pivot Podcast." Here are some highlights:

Helping the Ravens get over the hump and win the Super Bowl: "I'm happy I'm going somewhere where they're hungry for it and they're right on the cusp. They're always in the conversation, and I know Lamar [Jackson] wants one really bad, so I ain't going somewhere where the expectation is just 'we're gonna see what's going to happen, let's make the playoffs and try and make some noise.' No. They're trying to win it. And being so close and losing that [AFC Championship] game to Kansas City, I know they're hungry, I know they're going to come in with the right mindset, and let's get to it. I'm ready to come in and be that added piece to it to help spring them forward any way I can, helping [Jackson] and taking some of the pressure off him in any way. The big thing is being around some dawgs. I'm excited for the opportunity. Another reason why it played a big part: the last time the Ravens won the Super Bowl it was in New Orleans, and the Super Bowl is in New Orleans this year. So hopefully this year comes full circle."

Why he chose to sign with the Ravens: "When free agency started, they were No. 1 on my radar because they had been showing love since the trade deadline. I knew that once free agency started, I wanted to work something out if we could. Even though I'm living in Dallas and Dallas being a perfect situation as well because we lived there and wouldn't have to move. But at the same time, Ravens, the history of it, and then talking to Ray [Lewis] at the Pro Bowl, his passion about the organization, his impact there and how he talked about it, I was like, if I'm not in Tennessee or I don't get to go to Dallas, I'd love to be a Raven. I'm glad it worked out."

Being motivated to prove he is still an elite running back at age 30: "I love it and I embrace it just because of the era of football we're in now. It's not running back-dependent like it used to be. … I embrace it because I know people are just waiting to see when it's going to be over, when I'm not going to be as dominant as I was and have the effect that I have. Like I told them, just keep watching, because I'm going to keep working. As long as I can do this I'm going to keep doing it."

J.K. Dobbins Cleared for Football Activities, Expected to Take Free-Agent Visits Soon

Free agent running back J.K. Dobbins has been cleared for football activities and is expected to begin taking visits soon, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Dobbins suffered a torn Achilles in the Ravens' season opener last year and underwent surgery shortly thereafter. Following a promising rookie season in 2020, the second-round pick missed all of the 2021 season after suffering a torn ACL during training camp and was limited to eight games in 2022.

Head Coach John Harbaugh did not rule out the possibility of the Ravens bringing back Dobbins or Dalvin Cook to be part of a running back group led by Henry, Keaton Mitchell (who is coming back from a torn ACL suffered in Week 15), and Justice Hill.

"We're just going to see how that shakes out," Harbaugh said this week at the NFL Owners Meetings. "There are some moving pieces to that part, and I'll just let Eric [DeCosta] handle that. If we bring someone back, if we bring one of those two guys back, I'd be happy to do it. If we're not able to do it, we'll find some young guys."

Former NFL Executive Mocks Florida State Edge Rusher to Ravens

ESPN analyst and former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum took a different approach as to how he conducted his mock draft.

"While draft analysts aim to project what they believe will happen based on what they're hearing, I'm instead putting myself into the general manager chair for each team with a first-rounder and making my own picks," Tannenbaum wrote. "So it's not necessarily what I'm expecting to happen but rather how I'd personally approach each Day 1 selection. This is all based off my own evaluations, preferences, philosophies and rationale."

For the Ravens at No. 30, Tannebaum selected Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse.

"I really want to get the Ravens another edge rusher in their front seven," Tannenbaum wrote. "Kyle Van Noy had nine sacks last season and Jadeveon Clowney had 9.5, but both are still on the free agent market. The depth isn't strong here. Verse had a great combine (4.58-second run in the 40 at 254 pounds and a standout showing in drills) and 18 sacks in two years with the Seminoles. His style of play would fit well with the Ravens."

Pundit Says Ravens' Special Teams Are Poised to Return to Form

Strong special teams play has been a staple of Harbaugh's tenure with the Ravens, which is not surprising considering his background as a special teams coach.

What is surprising is that the Ravens' special teams were not that special last season. The unit was 16th in NFL writer Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings, which ranks each team in 22 kicking-game categories and assigns points for the best to the worst. The Ravens had been ranked in the top five in nine of the previous 10 seasons, placing No. 1 twice (2015, 2021).’s Todd Karpovich believes the Ravens' special teams are poised to return to form next season. One of the reasons for his optimism is the return of special teams standout Chris Board, who played with the Ravens from 2018-2021 and re-signed with the team last week.

"The Ravens could be better next season with the addition of Chris Board and the return of Malik Harrison and Arthur Maulet, who were both re-signed this offseason," Karpovich wrote. "In addition to Board, Harrison, and Maulet, the Ravens have one of the best kickers in the history of the NFL in Justin Tucker. Punter Jordan Stout had a solid season after some struggles in his rookie year. The kicking game has continuity with long-snapper Nick Moore.

"Tylan Wallace takes over the starting job as the returner for Devin Duvernay, who signed with the Jaguars this offseason. Wallace returned a punt for a game-winning 76-yard touchdown against the Rams last season and the Ravens like his potential moving forward."

Special teams play will have greater significance next season, as owners voted this week to revamp the league's kickoff rules. The rule changes are aimed at bringing more returns into the game while also addressing player safety.

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