There are no restrictions on the Ravens' lead running backs, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday.
J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards have both returned from major knee injuries this season, and Dobbins is preparing for his fourth game since coming back from his midseason clean-out procedure. In his first game back, Dobbins ran for 120 yards on 15 carries. Can he top it this Sunday night?
Dobbins hasn't gotten a handoff in the fourth quarter of either of the past two games, but Harbaugh made clear that it's not because of some snap count restrictions on either Dobbins or Gus Edwards. Neither has had more than 16 carries in a game this season.
"We don't have them on a snap or carry count right now; we're kind of doing it just [by] the situation in the game because you have two guys like that," Harbaugh said, also mentioning Justice Hill.
Dobbins said his knee and hamstring aren't in tip-top shape yet because he doesn't have his top speed back. He ripped off a 44-yard run in Pittsburgh earlier this month, but was not happy that he was caught short of the end zone.
"It's slowly coming back," Dobbins said. "If football was a game of 30 yards, 40 yards, I would be 100 percent – legit 100%. Quickness, and power and things like that, I feel 100%. The times when I feel the flexion and things like that is when I have to open up."
Dobbins said it's not just a knee issue, but also involves his hamstring. He says his left leg just isn't as strong right now as his right leg, and he feels a mix of tightness and weakness in his left leg.
"Before I got hurt, I was a 4.3-4.4 guy. So this leg is still super fast, but this leg, the hamstrings weren't reaching that speed for over a year," he said. "I'm not all the way there, but I'm getting there."
Harbaugh Always Believed Jerry Rosburg Could Be a Head Coach
The Ravens' coaching tree grew two branches this week, as Ed Reed has agreed to become the head coach at Bethune-Cookman University and Jerry Rosburg was named the interim head coach of the Denver Broncos, replacing Nathaniel Hackett.
Harbaugh said Bethune-Cookman “made a great hire” and shared similar sentiments about the Broncos' decision to put Rosburg in charge for the final two weeks of the regular season and perhaps beyond.
Harbaugh and Rosburg worked together for 11 seasons (2008-2018) in Baltimore and became extremely close friends. Rosburg's daughter, Megan Rosburg, is currently Harbaugh's assistant.
"Jerry is a good man. I know he's been contributing there and helping out, so I'm sure the team is comfortable with him [and] he with them," Harbaugh said.
"I always believed Jerry Rosburg would've been, could've been, can be a great head coach; no doubt about it. I've always felt that. He and I, we were shoulder-to-shoulder really in everything we did here all those years. [He is] just a great football man, great leader. [He] has every quality, every trait for it, so it'll be a great week for them, I'm sure."
Alex Highsmith Has Become 'One of the Premier Pass Rushers'
It's not just T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward that the Ravens have to be concerned with up front Sunday night.
Outside linebacker Alex Highsmith has had a breakout season stepping in for departed pass rusher Bud Dupree. Highsmith is tied with the seventh-most sacks in the league (12.0).
"What a year he's had. He's become one of the premier pass rushers," Harbaugh said.
"They have a lot of great players, but those three pass rushers – they have the two edge players and they've got the defensive end – everyone knows who I'm talking about here. So, those three guys are just elite players in the National Football League. I think for Highsmith to put himself in the category with a T.J. Watt and a Cam Heyward, that's high praise. He has done that."
Heyward was the AFC's defensive player of the week last week after notching seven tackles, two sacks and one pass defensed.
Roquan Smith Excited to Face Kenny Pickett for a Full Game
The Ravens only got a small taste of Kenny Pickett in their first meeting with the Steelers' first-round rookie quarterback.
After getting slammed to the turf on a sack by Roquan Smith on the Steelers' first series, Pickett came back for one more series before being removed due to a concussion.
"It will be nice to get out there and really get to see him for a full game," Smith said Wednesday. "I'm excited about the challenge, and what he'll bring to the table. I know he likes to pull it down a little bit. So, we'll see."
Pickett missed one game due to the concussion, but returned last week to lead a comeback win over the Raiders. He went 26 of 39 for 244 yards with one interception and one touchdown, which he threw with 46 seconds left to George Pickens for a 13-10 win.