The return of J.K. Dobbins to Baltimore's backfield has been eagerly anticipated, and he's continuing to trend in a positive direction.
Dobbins was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice, but Head Coach John Harbaugh has been pleased with how the third-year running back has progressed since returning to practice Aug. 8.
"I do like what I've seen so far, he's really ascending quickly, especially in the last week, week-and-a-half," Harbaugh said. "My plan is to decide by the end of the week which backs are going to be up. Really with J.K., just kind of measure where he's at in terms of how he's moving. Same with the other guys."
After averaging 6.0 yards per carry as a rookie, Dobbins is expected to be a key piece in the offense whenever he returns from last year's knee injury. Mike Davis, Justice Hill and Kenyan Drake are the other healthy backs on the 53-man roster and Harbaugh said he would decide by Friday on Dobbins' status and the running back rotation for Week 1.
Lamar Jackson and Dobbins haven't been in the backfield together since he went down in last year's preseason finale. The quarterback is looking forward to a reunion, and he knows Dobbins is chomping at the bit to return.
"Day-by-day he's getting better," Jackson said. "I told him I want him to slow down, but he's looking pretty good. I'm looking forward to that guy, and he's very eager to play. He's been hearing the outside noise, he's ready to go and I'm ready for him to go too."
Odafe Oweh Sheds Shoulder Brace He Has Worn Since High School
After offseason shoulder surgery, outside linebacker Odafe Oweh feels completely healthy and says he won't wear a shoulder brace during games for the first time in years. Oweh has talked about using his hands more as a pass rusher, and he believes shedding the brace will allow him more freedom of movement.
"I've had that thing on since Blair (N.J. high school)," Oweh said. "I've never even played college (football) without it. I feel good. I feel lighter. I feel like it was restricting my arm movement. It's a big thing."
Peter King of NBC Sports has predicted Oweh will finish second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting behind Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. That's lofty praise for Oweh, who had five sacks and 33 tackles as a rookie, but his potential to become a double-digit sack producer and game-wrecker is being widely recognized. Oweh smiled when asked about King's prediction, but he's focusing on the work, not the hype.
"That's the mission," Oweh said. "I hate losing. I hate not being with the top guys. You've got to work. Working leads to success, I try to outwork everybody."
Veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston believes Oweh's work ethic will pay huge dividends.
"Last year, I had to pull him along; this year, it's more so we pull each other along," Houston said. "There are days [when] I don't feel like going; he calls me over there. So, we're feeding off each other, and he's definitely willing to work. I'm expecting a big year from him."
Rashod Bateman Does Homework on Sauce Gardner
One of the most intriguing matchups of Sunday's game will be Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman vs. Jets rookie cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner. Bateman is Baltimore's No. 1 receiver after the offseason trade of Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. Gardner was the fourth-overall pick who never gave up a touchdown during his college career at Cincinnati.
"We've been studying him all around," Bateman said. "Good athlete, confident player. Just looking forward to the matchup."
Bateman said he has watched college tape on Gardner, but the second-year wide receiver is focusing on his own game and wants to capitalize whenever he is targeted by Jackson. The electric atmosphere and noise level at MetLife Stadium will be an early-season test for Baltimore's offensive precision.
"Definitely exciting, it's going to be lit, it's going to be loud, it's going to be fun," Bateman said.
Jackson and Bateman spent plenty of time working together this offseason, both away from the team and during training camp. Neither saw action during the preseason, but Bateman doesn't think that will hurt their chemistry.
"There's only three preseason games. We had 30-something practices, we got a lot in, we feel good about it," Bateman said.
Calais Campbell Would Welcome Playing OLB
Oweh and Houston are the only two outside linebackers on Baltimore's 53-man roster, meaning other players could take snaps there Sunday even if the Ravens elevate someone from the practice squad. Veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell said he would welcome playing some snaps at outside linebacker, especially if he's matched against a tight end.
"I enjoy being on the edge," Campbell said. "You're going against tight ends, and tight ends can't block me in this league. At the end of the day though, I'll play wherever they put me."
Inside linebacker Malik Harrison may also take snaps at outside linebacker, and Campbell believes Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald will take full advantage of players who can handle multiple positions.
"We have an arsenal of weapons all over the place, and we can kind of do different things," Campbell said. "It's a coach's dream to have plenty of weapons you can use in different ways. If you want a big edge, you have it with me. If you want that speed, those guys, 'J-Hou' [Houston] and Odafe, they're spectacular off the edge. The same thing with the safeties. There are a lot of options."