J.K. Dobbins is coming off his first most productive game as a pro (15 carries, 113 yards), which has rekindled questions about whether his role in the offense will expand. Gaining 100 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers is nothing to sneeze at.
However, since the start of training camp, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman has said that having a deep running back group is a strength the Ravens will utilize.
"I think J.K.'s doing a really good job," Roman said Thursday. "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. I thought those guys did a really nice job of complimenting each other last week. We were able to stay fresh. Those guys ran the ball really effectively against a really good defense."
Gus Edwards (16 carries, 87 yards) also ran well against the Steelers, and Mark Ingram II (ankle) is coming off a 1,000-yard season and has started every game when healthy, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. However, Ingram didn't practice again Thursday, and has been sidelined since suffering his ankle injury on Oct. 18.
Ingram, Dobbins and Edwards have different styles and sharing the load among running backs keeps any of them from getting fatigued. Roman liked the way Dobbins picked up the slack with Ingram not in the lineup. He gives the Indianapolis Colts another running back to worry about as they prepare to face the Ravens on Sunday.
Ravens Defensive Versatility Helps This Week
The Ravens have been practicing this week without eight defensive players who are on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. However, the Ravens have a versatile defense that requires many players to line up in multiple positions. In a situation like this, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale says the Ravens are helped by having players who are used to adjusting.
"I think you just have to rely on your system," Martindale said. "You know what guys do well, and you just have to try and put them in position where they can have success. We feel like we have more than just 11 starters on our roster. You see that with all the different guys that we play."
The cornerback position has been hit hard, with Tavon Young and Iman Marshall both out for the season and Anthony Averett on the injured list. The Ravens won't have All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey (COVID-19) in the lineup on Sunday, but Martindale said he won't hesitate to play young corners Terrell Bonds or Khalil Dorsey if needed. Bonds played a career high 17 snaps on Sunday.
"I think they've earned our trust," Martindale said. "T.B. (Bonds) has executed the defense well. I thought he played well. He was playing good coverage there. With both he and Khalil [Dorsey], they just need experience with playing on Sunday. What a better chance for them to do it than this Sunday?"
Being Diligent About COVID Protocols Is Part of 2020 Routine
There's been a rise in COVID-19 cases in Maryland and around the country over the past several weeks and Humphrey is among the latest. Martindale said he believes players are fully aware that it's important to take precautions, but there are no guarantees.
"Sometimes, you can get it and do all the things right," Martindale said. "We talk about it daily, about the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing and everything else. We're still going to play Sunday. We just know that everybody needs to be careful and vigilant on everything. I'm not just talking about players; I'm talking about everybody. We trust the NFL protocols. People get this pandemic fatigue. We just got to keep talking doing the right things, and wearing a mask, and social distancing, being smart."
Roman Wants More Offensive Consistency With Brown Part of the Plan
Coming off a game when wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown was targeted just two times, Roman said the second-year wide receiver remains an important piece in the Ravens' game-planning.
"Marquise is an excellent player, he's got a great attitude," Roman said. "He's a very good teammate, a very team-oriented person. It's really on us as coaches. Some of it is just how that game unfolded. We definitely want Marquise involved, have him continue to improve in practice and get him involved in the games.
"Play-calling can be a little bit different at times. A lot of factors go into where the defense decides to emphasize their coverage and who ends up being open. Some weeks you get a lot, some weeks you don't. I think we're always striving to keep Marquise involved and developing in our offense."
The main goal for the Ravens is to score on every position, regardless of who gets the most touches. Roman said the Ravens need to avoid turnovers, while being more precise in their execution to make that happen.
"We're doing an outstanding job at times," Roman said. "We'd just like to be a little more consistent. That's what everyone's working toward. Last week's game was a great example. We controlled the entire game, we just had some plays where we just gave them the ball. I think things are trending in the right direction."