The Baltimore Ravens suffered not one but two devastating injuries against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Running back J.K. Dobbins, who’s appeared in just nine games over the past three seasons due to numerous injury issues, tore his Achilles and will miss the rest of the 2023 campaign.
Safety Marcus Williams is believed to have suffered a serious pectoral injury that could knock him out for the year, although there are conflicting reports about the severity of Williams’ ailment. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Williams would undergo an MRI to confirm his diagnosis.
Can the Ravens Replace J.K. Dobbins?
Dobbins, 24, tore his ACL during the 2021 preseason and missed the entire campaign. He missed the first two weeks of the 2022 season, then suffered another knee injury in Week 6.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Dobbins pushed for an extension over the summer. However, the Ravens didn’t give the Ohio State product a new deal before the regular season began.
Gus Edwards might be the next man up for Baltimore after Dobbins’ injury, but he was out-snapped by fellow running back Justice Hill (19 vs. 15) on Sunday. Both backs received eight carries, and neither was targeted in the passing game.
Gusto for 2❗️
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 10, 2023
The Ravens signed Melvin Gordon III during the summer before releasing him and placing him on their practice squad during final cutdowns. He’s a candidate to either be signed to Baltimore’s active roster or elevated from the taxi squad for Week 2.
Undrafted rookie free agent Keaton Mitchell impressed during training camp and the preseason but went on injured reserve after making the Ravens’ roster. He’ll be eligible to return as early as Week 5.
The running back market still has quality options available, so Baltimore can find an external option if they want one.
Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt have taken visits with multiple clubs, but neither has found an offer they’re willing to accept. The Ravens might not be open to offering either veteran much more than the league minimum, but Baltimore would present touch opportunities for Fournette or Hunt.
J.D. McKissic, James Robinson, Dontrell Hilliard, Darrel Williams, and Kenyan Drake (who played for Baltimore in 2022) are also available if the Ravens want to consider other free agents.
Trey Sermon (Eagles), Myles Gaskin (Vikings), and Zonovan Knight (Lions) are on practice squads but could be signed to Baltimore’s active roster if the Ravens have interest.
Jonathan Taylor is technically a trade candidate, but Baltimore probably won’t pursue a high-profile addition like the embattled Colts running back.
Still, a few RBs stand out as potential trade acquisitions.
The Chargers made 2022 fourth-round pick Isaiah Spiller a healthy scratch on Sunday and might be amenable to moving him. Rashaad Penny was also inactive for the Eagles, who might have too many backs and not enough playing time.
If the Ravens want a pass catcher to complement Edwards and Hill, they could give the Buccaneers a call about Chase Edmonds, who’s been usurped by Sean Tucker for Tampa Bay’s RB2 role behind Rachaad White.
Losing Marcus Williams Would Be a Crushing Blow to Baltimore’s Secondary
While it’s still unclear whether Williams will be sidelined for the rest of the season, his loss would be devastating for the Ravens.
Baltimore signed Williams to a five-year, $70 million contract during the 2022 offseason, intending to make the ex-Saint their center fielder in the back end. He made 10 regular-season appearances last year, sandwiched around a six-game IR stint after dislocating his wrist in October.
Marcus Williams has full movement and the pain is limited, but it’s very swollen, source said. The MRI will tell the story. https://t.co/h2aC8INVeD
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 10, 2023
How will the Ravens replace Williams if he’s done for the year?
Baltimore traded safety Chuck Clark to the Jets over the offseason, so he’s no longer around to soak up snaps in the club’s defensive backfield.
Instead, 2020 seventh-round pick Geno Stone saw an increased role against the Texans and ultimately played 60 snaps. Stone, a free agent in 2024, could create an offseason market for his services by producing over the rest of the season.
The Ravens also have two safeties on their practice squad: veteran Daryl Worley and rookie UDFA Jeremy Lucien. Worley, a longtime corner who recently transitioned to safety, would be the favorite for promotion.
The free agent safety market doesn’t contain nearly as many options as the FA running back group, but the Ravens will have veterans they can target.
Duron Harmon has 78 career starts under his belt but isn’t currently on the roster. Lamarcus Joyner struggled with the Jets last season but offers a wealth of experience. DeAndre Houston-Carson was primarily a special teamer until 2021, but he was with Baltimore over the summer before being released at final cutdowns.
Eric Rowe (Panthers) and Jonathan Abram (Saints) are currently on practice squads but could emerge as possibilities for the Ravens.
Tracy Walker was a 15-game starter for the Lions in 2021. But a torn Achilles ended his 2022 campaign after three games, and he’s since been passed by C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Kerby Joseph on Detroit’s depth chart. He’s earning just $1.45 million this year.
In the AFC, Mike Edwards played 16 snaps for the Chiefs in Week 1, but he’s squarely behind Bryan Cook and Justin Reid in Kansas City’s pecking order. If the Chiefs are open to using fourth-round rookie Chamarri Conner as a nickel/dime back (as they were last Thursday night), Edwards might be available.