Gus "The Bus" Edwards will be ready to roll Thursday night.
Running backs Mark Ingram II and J.K. Dobbins were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, leaving Edwards and Justice Hill as the only running backs currently on the 53-man roster. On Monday, their teammates said they will be ready Thanksgiving night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For Edwards, responding in crucial situations is nothing new. As a rookie in 2018, Edwards became a starter midway through the season and ran for more than 100 yards in three games, helping the Ravens make the playoffs with a 6-1 regular-season finish. Last season,[add] Edwards was one of the NFL's best backup running backs with 711 yards while averaging 5.35 yards per carry.
When Ingram sat in Week 17 last year against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Edwards rumbled 21 times or 130 yards, helping push the Ravens over the hump and into the history books with the most team rushing yards in a single season in NFL history. When Ingram was sidelined against the Steelers earlier this month, Edwards rolled for 87 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
The coaching staff and Edwards' teammates have seen this before. Give Gus the ball and he'll do the rest.
"You look at Gus and Justice, those two guys are incredible athletes, incredible players, and they're going to do their job just fine and hold that torch and do their thing," Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. "There's no worries there."
"We've got Gus. We've got other running backs on the roster," outside linebacker Matthew Judon said. "I'm pretty sure last year, last game of the season, Gus had a pretty good game against this same defense almost. It's never about who's not playing. It's always about who is playing."
For Hill, this will be a rare opportunity to contribute as a runner this year. He's been playing on special teams and he has one catch out of the backfield. However, Hill doesn't have a rushing attempt this season after getting 58 carries for 225 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.
Hill had a season-high 10 carries for 39 yards last season against the Steelers in the regular-season finale, when Baltimore had already clinched the top seed in the AFC.
"The run game is a group effort; all 11 guys are involved in that," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I'm sure we'll run the ball on Thursday night."
Finding Ways For 'Hollywood' to Shine
It has been a quiet recent four-game stretch for Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who has just six catches for 55 yards in his last four starts. On Sunday, Brown was targeted three times and did not have a catch. He dropped one pass, and when he got behind the Tennessee Titans' secondary on a deep pass, Lamar Jackson appeared to spot Brown late and they did not connect on the pass.
The Ravens know they need more big plays to become a better offense, and getting Brown more involved is part of the equation.
"We want him to be a huge part of the offense," Harbaugh said. "We've got to find ways to get that done. He's playing very hard. Lamar and Hollywood have to get that done and we as coaches have to get that done. Put him in position to make those plays. That's too important for us. Those are big plays to be had and Hollywood's very talented. I really want to see him involved.
"It's not like we're not trying to get it done. They do take him out of it sometimes, sometimes other things happen. That's important for us. We've got a lot of football left to play and we want him to be a big part of it."
Andrews played college football with Brown at Oklahoma, and knows how dangerous he can be. They are close friends, but Andrews said a pep talk for his teammate really hasn't been necessary.
"Hollywood's a special player. I've seen him time and time again destroy defenses," Andrews said. "(I) just tell him to keep on going. Trust himself, which he does. There's never going to be a lack of confidence for him, or anybody in this organization about him. We know the type of player he is, we know what he means to our team. Just keep on going, be you, be yourself and be great."
Dez Bryant Is Trending Up
Making his first catch in a game since 2017, Dez Bryant continued his comeback story in Sunday's loss. He had four receptions for 28 yards against the Titans, including an impressive run-after-catch on a 16-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
Harbaugh liked what he saw, and encouraged Bryant to continue working for more.
"Keep building on it, see where it goes," Harbaugh said. "I thought he made some good plays, especially one towards the end that was a very valuable play for us, a catch-and-run. There's a lot of things he can do better. He and I texted back and forth about those things this morning. He's very determined to be the best player he can be at this stage. We appreciate that."
Harbaugh Discusses Latest Offensive Line
Patrick Mekari made his first start of the season at center Sunday and Ben Powers made his first career start at right guard, part of the fifth offensive line combination the Ravens have used in 2020. Against Tennessee, D.J. Fluker (35 snaps) started at right tackle but shared time with Will Holden (30 snaps).
Harbaugh did not say if the same group would start at Pittsburgh.
"We'll just see, we'll establish it as we go," Harbaugh said. "I don't really feel like announcing our starting lineup going forward until it's more established."
Harbaugh saw encouraging things from Powers in his first start.
"I thought he did pretty well," Harbaugh said. "He's a fighter, moves his feet well, he's a good athlete. Made a lot of good blocks, tenacious guy. He was going against some pretty good tackles, those guys are very physical players. I thought he held his own quite well. It was a good start."