J.K. Dobbins led all NFL running backs in yards per carry last season. Now he's going to show his chops as a pass catcher, too.
As Dobbins enters Year 2 as a primary back in the Ravens' backfield, he'll see more passes thrown his way as Baltimore's passing attack continues to evolve.
"One of the main points of emphasis has been to involve our running backs in the passing game more," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "J.K, obviously, is going to be a focal point in that."
Dobbins caught 18 of 24 targets for 120 yards last season. He showed the same speed, strength and vision as a pass-catcher that he does as a runner, but drops were an occasional problem, including in the playoff loss in Buffalo. Dobbins is determined to atone for those mistakes and show his full potential.
He wasn't a big-time receiver in college with 71 catches for 645 yards and five touchdowns during his three years at Ohio State, but Dobbins has often flashed his potential as a dangerous receiving threat at Ravens practice.
He was particularly dominant in Tuesday's practice, in which he caught three touchdowns, including a leaping grab over a defender's head. Harbaugh said Dobbins is "making strides" as a pass-catcher.
"J.K. and Justice [Hill], specifically, that's what they should be really good at. That should be a big part of their tool kits," Harbaugh said. "That's something we want to emphasize and continue to improve at."
As pointed out by The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer, Ravens running backs were targeted on 15.1% of their routes last season, the lowest rate in the NFL. Last week, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said getting the running backs more involved in the passing game is "something we're working on right now diligently, every day."
"We'd love to really have a threat out of the backfield," Roman said. "J.K. is a very talented athlete. He didn't do much route running in high school or college, really. He was just toting the rock, getting handoffs. I really think last year was a great experience for him. He got thrown into the fire as a rookie. I think he has the skill set and the talent to really include him as a viable weapon in the passing game."
Rashod Bateman and Marquise Brown Miss Practice
The Ravens were missing two wide receivers when Rashod Bateman and Marquise Brown both sat out Tuesday's workout. Harbaugh said both players were dealing with issues resulting from the heavy running that wide receivers do during camp.
"He (Bateman) had some tenderness and some tightness from all the running he's been doing," Harbaugh said. "Marquise, the same thing; he's had some muscle-type issues. We've had other guys, especially the receivers and the 'DBs.' They do a lot of running, so that comes up a little bit in this heat."
Patrick Queen Explains Switch to No. 6
After wearing No. 48 as a rookie, inside linebacker Patrick Queen has switched to No. 6 this year, taking advantage of the NFL's relaxed rules on jersey numbers. Queen wore No. 8 in college at LSU, but he has not been able to talk Lamar Jackson into giving that up.
"Somebody tell Lamar we still need a switch," Queen said laughing.
However, Queen likes the feel of his new number and explained the meaning behind No. 6.
"Single-digit swag, just the swagger, the feeling that comes with it," Queen said. "Back home, the place that we're from (Ventress, LA, near Baton Rouge), we call it six. Everybody that's got clothing brands, rappers, whatever it may be, they've got six in their name somewhere. That's what I try to do, to put the city on me, show them where I'm from."
Mark Andrews Likes What He Sees From Passing Attack
Much of the Ravens' offseason buzz centers around the passing attack – the new receivers, Lamar Jackson's continued development, additions to the coaching staff and potential schematic changes.
Tight end Mark Andrews could benefit greatly from Baltimore's decision to sign Sammy Watkins and to draft Bateman and Tylan Wallace.
Andrews and Brown have been Jackson's primary weapons, but Andrews sees the potential for more diversity in the attack. That could lead to more one-on-one coverage for Andrew.
"Just being out there with obviously Sammy, Rashod and a couple of the other guys, the new young guys, those guys are balling out," Andrews said. "The deep threat, the stretching the field, making plays, catching the ball, everyone is incredibly locked in. Just the whole energy around this program right now is awesome. Everyone is moving on the same page and working toward the same goal. We're trying to be the best team that we can be, and our pass game is looking really good, to be honest with you. So, I'm excited about it."
Andrews said he was impressed with the work being done by Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin and Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams.
"I think having those two new coaches here and that receiver group is awesome," Andrews said. "Just the drills that I've been in, the attention to detail that they bring to that wide receiver group has been awesome. They've come over multiple times and just little things here and there. All that stuff adds up. So as an offense and especially as a passing game, that's going to be great. Those two guys have been extremely dynamic – just from what I've seen so far – and I'm excited to learn more and just to hear more of what they're saying, because what they're putting out is very good."