With J.K. Dobbins (knee) a limited participant during Thursday's practice, the Ravens' running back rotation is difficult to predict heading into Sunday's season opener.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman plans to utilize all four running backs on the roster at some point this season – Dobbins, Mike Davis, Justice Hill and newly-acquired Kenyan Drake. Roman wants to take advantage of the various skills that each brings to the table.
"I think everybody's going to have a role for sure, and every game it might be a little bit different," Roman said. "Some games, honestly, the hot hand gets a lot of action. We're definitely going to involve every running back on the roster. They've all got to be able to do a lot of things. Those guys are ready, I feel great about whoever plays."
Drake joined the Ravens last week after he was released by the Raiders during final roster cuts. He's a proven runner and pass-catcher who enjoyed his best season in 2020 with 955 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
As a seven-year NFL veteran, Drake has the experience to deal with Week 1 nerves, and whether Dobbins plays or not, Drake plans to be ready Sunday if his number is called.
"They brought me in here to make plays," Drake said. "Whatever capacity that is, however I learn the playbook … I'm out there and they're throwing me in any and every situation. I'm taking it all in stride. Once the bright lights come on, that's when I make the most of my opportunity."
Tyler Linderbaum Prepares for Crowd Noise in His First NFL Start
Rookie center Tyler Linderbaum dealt with loud crowds playing for Iowa in the Big Ten, which should help deal with the atmosphere at MetLife Stadium against the Jets.
It will be opening Sunday, and the Ravens will be on the road playing the Jets on 9-11. The crowd will try to make it difficult for Lamar Jackson and the offense to communicate at the line of scrimmage, and Linderbaum's poise will be tested in his first NFL start.
The Ravens turned up the crowd noise on the speakers during Thursday's practice, and Linderbaum is looking forward to the challenge.
"I'm sure Sunday when I wake up I'll be a little nervous," Linderbaum said. "I'm looking forward to getting my first NFL game under my belt. It's going to be fun. Once the game gets going, you're not really thinking about the fans or the noise. Do your job, make the calls and the communications. and at the end of the day try to block your guy."
Linderbaum will face one of the NFL's most talented defensive tackles, Quinnen Williams, a former No. 3-overall pick who has 15.5 sacks over his first three seasons. Watching Williams on film has gotten Linderbaum's attention.
"A very talented player," Linderbaum said. "He's going to give me a lot of looks, he plays extremely hard."
Mike MacDonald Says Ravens Will Be Covered at Outside Linebacker
The Ravens have two outside linebackers on their 53-man roster, Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston, which has gotten plenty of attention. There are two outside linebackers on reserve/PUP, Tyus Bowser and rookie David Ojabo, while Steven Means, Jeremiah Moon and newly-signed Kyler Fackrell are on the practice squad, available to be elevated for Sunday.
Regardless of how many outside linebackers dress, Defensive Coordinator Mike MacDonald says the Ravens won't be shorthanded.
"To the naked eye, it's going to look very similar to what you've seen in the past from those positions," Macdonald said. "We have guys that can play. We're going to try to stay flexible with it. Guys might end up in different spots, but in terms of snap counts we're anticipating guys to play, it's not anything out of the ordinary. You wouldn't think anything had changed."
Greg Roman Is Eager to See Lamar Jackson's Return to Game Mode
It's been a long time between games for Jackson, who didn't play in the preseason and hasn't played since Week 14 last year when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
Jackson had a strong training camp and has become more locked in during the past few weeks with the regular season about to begin. Roman can't wait to see the results.
"(I'm) really fired up, in terms of getting Lamar out there, and all of us being there together to try to help him be successful and vice versa," Roman said. "He's doing a really good job in his preparation. I could feel him ratchet things up once we kind of got through the middle of the preseason. It's one play at a time from here, and we've just got to keep getting better, keep trying to improve."