Baltimore Ravens could dominate the ground game with new faces

    The Baltimore Ravens were the second best rushing team in the NFL last year. With their retooled running back group, however, they'll look to pound the rock more effectively in 2019.

    In 2018, the Baltimore Ravens changed their entire offense once they turned to rookie Lamar Jackson from Joe Flacco after their Week 10 bye. Now with a full offseason to get behind the former 2018 1st round pick from Louisville, new general manager Eric DeCosta has shown his commitment to Jackson, as they have brought in new weapons for him via the 2019 NFL Draft as the offense looks to evolve.

    Even though he will not be running as much as last year, the focus will always be the run game first, as their new additions in the backfield look to take bigger strides for the 2019 season. Let’s take a look at the reloaded running back position and how it can help Baltimore repeat as AFC North Champs.

    Can Mark Ingram rush for 1,000 yards with the Ravens as the projected lead back in their rotation?

    The former New Orleans Saints running back signed with Baltimore in the offseason, inking a three year, $15 million deal in 2019. Mark Ingram was formerly in a two-back system with Alvin Kamara for the Saints, as he rushed for only 645 yards and six touchdowns. To his credit, he served a suspension for the first four games in 2018.

    With Baltimore, the former Alabama running back could get the majority of the carries as the potential lead back for the Ravens. His game brings power but offers some receiving ability out of the backfield. At 29 years old though, Ingram may have to share the load with his fellow teammates. However, with Jackson and a good offensive line, he has a chance to return to his 2016 to 2017 form, where he rushed over 1,000 yards in back to back seasons.

    Will the “Gus Bus” continue his trend upward as a key player for the Ravens or will he revert into more of a role player this season?

    As an undrafted rookie from Rutgers last season, the emergence of Gus Edwards was a surprise for most fans late in the season. He played a key role and was the lead back in the rotation last year, setting the tone for their run-heavy offense with Jackson. The Ravens have a habit of finding at least one undrafted gem, and Edwards eventually found a niche as the spark that helped the offense move.

    In only 11 games with six starts, Edwards rushed for 718 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Averaging 5.2 yards per attempt, the “Gus Bus” looks to improve on an impressive rookie season. Ingram and Edwards should form a two-headed monster as the main power backs on the roster. It will be interesting to see who wins more snaps each game day.

    What will rookie Justice Hill bring to the table?

    The Ravens will likely rotate all of their running backs this season. It will not be surprising if they want to include another running back to contribute a complementing skill set. Coincidentally, Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill was drafted for that exact reason. The Ravens drafted him in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He brings the speed they desperately need to balance the power of Ingram and Edwards.

    Hill can be a rotational change of pace back, as he can spell both Ingram and Edwards for carries and could be dynamic in the passing game. If he can stay healthy, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy can be productive even in a limited role. He rushed for over 3,539 yards and had 31 touchdowns from scrimmage in 36 career games. He also averaged an amazing 5.6 yards per rush.

    How does Kenneth Dixon fit in now?

    One running back that could be out the door is former Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the former Bulldog is on his last legs with Baltimore. Whether it was injuries or suspensions, Dixon has not been able to stay on the field consistently in his career as a Raven.

    But when he has been on the field, his impact is felt. He has rushed for 715 yards and five total touchdowns in 18 games since being drafted. The chances of him sticking on the roster are running out though, as even De’Lance Turner is another player that has impressed in camp before and in the preseason last year.

    The Baltimore Ravens rushing attack is looking to be the best in the NFL after last season’s success and will be the focal point of the offense once again. Even if Lamar Jackson makes a leap in his growth as a quarterback, the backfield will be crucial. With Ingram to pair with Edwards and Hill on passing downs, the Ravens may easily repeat their rushing success.

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