J.K. Dobbins was moving well during the early portion of Wednesday's practice, taking reps on the blocking sled and making sharp cuts.
The third-year running back has pushed his body hard rehabbing following his season-ending knee injury. Whether Dobbins is ready to play Week 1 remains to be seen, but Head Coach John Harbaugh likes the way Dobbins is trending.
"He looks better every day; he looks good," Harbaugh said. "His quickness is kind of back. So, I'm excited about where he's at."
Veteran running back Kanyan Drake has joined the Ravens' roster, but Harbaugh said that move was about Drake's talent, not Dobbins' lack of progress.
"When good players are available – and we've been known to run the ball a little bit – so you get a running back out there that we feel like fits what we do, a talented guy that wants to be here, we felt like it was a good move for us," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh Says Ronnie Stanley Will Return to Practice 'As Soon as He Can'
All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley did not participate in Wednesday's practice, although he was on the field doing individual drills before practice began.
The Ravens will be off until Monday, meaning it will be at least several more days until Stanley's first practice since his most recent ankle surgery.
"It's really not a set timetable," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be in terms of when they tell us and when he feels like he wants to get out there and do it. He knows his ankle. I know Ronnie's very determined to be really at his very best when he comes back. I think that's kind of part of his thinking on it. I trust him with it. I know he's going to do the right thing and be out there as soon as he can. I'm hopeful sooner rather than later for sure, but he's off PUP now. You're talking about it's in the realm now where it should happen."
Player Versatility Gives Ravens Options at Outside Linebacker
The absence of Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo hurts the Ravens' depth at outside linebacker, with Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston expected to carry the load early in the season. However, Harbaugh pointed out that Oweh and Houston are not the only two healthy players who can play the outside linebacker spot.
The Ravens re-signed veteran Steven Means to the practice squad, meaning he could be elevated to the gameday roster. They also have some players with position flexibility.
"There are more guys that can play there then meets the eye on the depth chart," Harbaugh said. "Malik Harrison definitely – if you've watched practice – he's been out there quite a bit. Other guys can play on the edge as well. Patrick Queen goes out there quite a bit in different fronts and different looks. Calais [Campbell] even goes out there in some of our bigger looks. So, we'll definitely have 11 guys. There will be someone on the edge of the defense. If there's not, then I'm going to be mad about that."
Josh Oliver's All-Around Play Clinched Roster Spot
Josh Oliver's performance throughout the entire offseason earned him a spot on the 53-man roster, as the Ravens kept five tight ends. Oliver is part of a deep tight end group that also includes All-Pro Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, rookie Isaiah Likely and rookie Charlie Kolar, who is out of action recovering from hernia surgery.
A former third-round pick by Jacksonville in 2019, Oliver suffered a broken foot in 2020 but has steadily improved and appears to be finding his comfort zone as an NFL player. The Ravens traded for him in March of last year in exchange for a seventh-round pick, and his size (6-foot-5, 249 pounds) makes him a friendly target who can also block.
Oliver appeared in 14 games last season and made nine catches for 66 yards, but his improvement as a receiver during training camp and the preseason was obvious. He had two catches for 41 yards in the preseason finale. There was no guarantee Baltimore would keep five tight ends on its initial 53-man roster, but Oliver earned his spot.
"He just kept getting better and better," Harbaugh said. "You watch him play, he's blocking very well, he's running routes, he's catching the ball, he's got some juice after the catch. Just (an) all-around good tight end."