J.K. Dobbins Named as Breakout Candidate in Season's Second Half
Running back J.K. Dobbins has shown flashes of his playmaking ability, and NFL.com analyst Maurice Jones-Drew believes the rookie is poised to break out during the second half of the season.
"The Ravens leaned on their more experienced running backs in the first half of the season, with third-year pro Gus Edwards and 10th-year pro Mark Ingram getting a majority of the carries behind dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson," Jones-Drew wrote. "Second-round pick J.K. Dobbins, meanwhile, didn't log more than 10 carries in a game through Week 6.
"However, Dobbins was given more carries coming out of the team's Week 7 bye, with Ingram being out the last two games, and the rookie capitalized on his opportunity, highlighted by a breakout performance against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8, with 113 yards on 15 carries for a ridiculous 7.53 yards per carry. Though they limited him early in the season, expect the Ravens to let their young, physical running back go in the second half."
Ingram returned to the practice field Wednesday for the first time since injuring his ankle in Philadelphia on Oct. 18. Ingram was off to a strong start this season and is the leader of the team's trio of talented running backs. How the carries will be split once he's back in games will be determined, but it will continue to be a rotation.
Dobbins also has emerged as a threat in the passing game. He leads Ravens running backs in catches (14) and receiving yards (87).
"I think J.K.'s doing a really good job," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. "We like all our backs and every week it will be a little bit different. I think J.K., as was the plan, as we outlined earlier on, his role will evolve as the year goes on. That's not to say our other backs won't be heavily involved as well."
Lamar Jackson Tells Rich Eisen: Defenses Are Calling Out Our Plays
One of the contributing factors to the Ravens offense not clicking at the same level as last season's record-breaking unit might be that defenses have a better grasp of Baltimore's scheme. Last year, the "revolutionary" Ravens offense shocked the NFL world, but after a full offseason to study it, the unit hasn't been as productive.
"They're calling out our plays, stuff like that," Jackson said on "The Rich Eisen Show." "They know what we're doing. Sometimes stuff won't go our way if they beat us to the punch. … "Like, 'run' and stuff like that. 'Watch out for this, watch out for that.' Sometimes that's what's going on."
NFL Network's Willie McGinest said the fact that games are being played in empty stadiums or with significantly reduced capacity could be a factor.
"Nobody's in the stadium. We can hear checks. If you run repeated plays, we're going to pick it up," said McGinest, a former NFL linebacker.
Regardless of what defenses may or may not know, the Ravens still have the league's No. 1 rushing attack and have scored 20-plus points in an NFL-record 31 consecutive games.
The Colts stuffed the Ravens for just 55 offensive yards in the first half Sunday, but Baltimore changed things up (especially with tempo) and dominated the second half. That didn't stop New England Patriots safety Adrian Phillips from talking a little smack before Sunday's game.
Nick Boyle Is One of Ravens' 'Most Essential and Consistent Players'
Nick Boyle led the Ravens in receiving in last week's win over the Indianapolis Colts, but showing up in the stats sheet has never been a priority for the sixth-year tight end.
Boyle is most known for his ability as a blocker, which suits him just fine.
"People can refer to me as whatever they want. It's just how it is," Boyle told The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec. "Is the best part of my game blocking? Yeah. I think I'm strong, I think I'm dominant. That's what I take the most pride in actually. … It's nice to be totally dominant physically in the running game and hitting my assignments, knocking people over, knocking people sideways, and catching the ball. But if I'm catching the ball and not having a good blocking game, naah. I think I'd just rather not catch the ball.
"The best thing, of course, is to do both, but I'm most fulfilled if I just dominate the guy in front of me instead of catching a 10-yard pass."
In Zrebiec's compelling profile piece on Boyle, he referred to him as "one of the team's most essential and consistent players."
"He may wear the label of a blocking tight end, but to the Ravens, he's also part fullback, part offensive lineman and part wide receiver," Zrebiec wrote.
Said Roman: "Really and truly, we get to do certain things that we probably wouldn't do if he wasn't here."
Ravens Reportedly Bringing in Veteran Tight End Luke Willson for Tryout
The Ravens reportedly are bringing in former Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson for a tryout.
Willson, 30, has 110 career receptions for 1,295 yards and 11 touchdowns in eight seasons. He played five games with Seattle this season and did not have a target before being cut on Nov. 3.
There has been speculation for months that the Ravens are in the market for a third tight end. The offense thrived last season with the three-headed monster of tight ends Boyle, Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst. Hurst was traded to the Atlanta Falcons during the offseason.