J.K. Dobbins has been itching to return to practice, and his wish was granted Monday.
The Ravens' starting running back passed his physical, was removed from the PUP list, and joined his teammates at practice for the first time since suffering his season-ending knee injury on Aug. 28 of last year. Dobbins was eased into action with just individual drills, but was clearly excited to be part of the action.
Dobbins soaked up the high-fives from kids as he went out to practice. He was dapped by several teammates who greeted him warmly, and Head Coach John Harbaugh gave Dobbins a smile and a handshake shortly after practice began.
Dobbins moved well during individual drills, and flashing quickness and moving without any noticeable discomfort. It was something to build on, and Harbaugh liked what he saw.
"I thought he looked pretty good in individual, first day back," Harbaugh said. "Moved around during the ball-handling drills. That will be a first step, maybe add a little bit every day, kind of see how he handles it, and see how the knee responds. But, it seems like it's so far so good."
Dobbins has worked diligently to recover from a torn ACL, and refuted a report from Ian Rapport of NFL Network last month that he is "no sure thing" for Week 1.
Dobbins' competitive nature is part of what makes him special, and his effervescent personality will add even more energy to training camp. It has been Dobbins' intention all along to be ready for the starting of the regular season, and he advised those betting against him to "go check my resume
During one practice last week, Dobbins was stalking the sidelines telling everyone within earshot that he was ready to return, imploring them to let him practice.
"There's a great plan with the doctors and the trainers going forward, so we're just going to follow that," Running Backs Coach Craig Ver Steeg said. "We're going to add a little bit each day, and see how it goes. But, as you know, J.K. has been chomping at the bit, and I have too."
Dobbins is a vital cog in Baltimore's offense, an explosive runner who's effective both running between the tackles and bouncing outside. He was looking to have a breakout season in 2021 after averaging 6.0 yards per carry as a rookie, with 805 yards and nine touchdowns. Dobbins is also a capable receiver who caught 18 passes for 120 yards as a rookie, and he worked hard to improve that aspect of his game.
After Dobbins took over as the lead running back late in his rookie season, he and Gus Edwards were expected to be a formidable one-two punch in 2021. However, those plans were ruined when Dobbins and Edwards both suffered season-ending torn ACL's. Dobbins went down on a carry in the final preseason game in Washington.
Edwards is still on the PUP list and his status for Week 1 remains questionable. However, Dobbins is back on the field with ample time to build up for Week 1.
"My man looks great. He's been looking great," fellow running back Justice Hill said. "We've been working out here in the offseason too, and it's his time. He's ready to come back and show what he can do."