The Ravens are known for being a run-heavy team. But Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman also wants to incorporate his running backs more into the passing game.
Last season, Baltimore had big plans to deploy J.K. Dobbins more in a pass-catching role that would maximize his open-field ability and complement Gus Edwards' downhill bruising running. Dobbins' preseason knee injury derailed those plans.
Veteran addition Devonta Freeman was targeted with 42 passes, the sixth-most on the team. But only five teams in the league sent fewer targets to their top running back and only two offenses (Rams, Seahawks) threw to their running backs less.
During organized team activities, the Ravens' running back corps – which is still operating without Dobbins and Edwards as they rehab – have been quite active in the passing game. Roman was asked if that's something he wants to integrate more into the offense this season.
"Definitely. If we have guys that really display that skill set, then we'll definitely do that," Roman said.
"There's been times here in the past … A couple years ago, we had a very fruitful passing game with the 'backs out of the backfield. So, that's something we're really trying to do more of this year."
The Ravens got Dobbins involved as a receiver at times during his rookie season. In the playoff loss in Buffalo, Dobbins caught three of five targets for 51 yards. While Dobbins only had 24 targets and 18 catches as a rookie, he flashed his ability to do more damage in that area.
While Freeman was a solid receiver, he wasn't as dynamic with the ball in his hands as Dobbins would have been last season. Edwards had also shown improvements as a pass catcher and the Ravens were without speedy Justice Hill after his Achilles tear.
Now Hill is back on the field and the Ravens have already bolstered their running backs corps with players with a receiving background.
Veteran Mike Davis saw 128 targets and caught 103 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns the past two years in Carolina and Atlanta. Sixth-round rookie Tyler Badie was a consistent receiving threat throughout his college career at Missouri and hauled in 54 passes for 330 yards and four scores his senior season.
Badie made an impressive one-handed grab along the sideline in the first week of OTAs, then had a heel-dragging catch in the back of the end zone in the second week. Hill looks explosive out of the backfield once again and Davis seems comfortable with his new team.
Roman said Badie's "movement skills are really good."
"You saw a few jump cuts he made there, saw him out of the backfield a couple times, so I'm starting to see some real versatility there," Roman said. "We'll see how it goes once the pads come on."