The Ravens’ worst fears were realized Saturday night when running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a knee injury in the preseason finale against the Washington Football Team and needed to be carted to the locker room.
On Monday, coach John Harbaugh confirmed the injury is season-ending.
“Our hearts go out to him because he works so hard,” Harbaugh said before practice.
According to multiple reports, an MRI revealed that Dobbins tore his left ACL after he caught a screen pass from Lamar Jackson on the Ravens’ first drive and was sandwiched between two Washington defenders. The second-year running back was helped off the field and rode to the locker room on a cart.
“Been down this road before,” Dobbins’ agent, Zac Hiller, tweeted shortly after news of the MRI results broke. “He’ll come back bigger stronger faster.”
Harbaugh said Monday he’s not concerned about Dobbins’ long-term recovery.
“J.K. will be ready to go next year, there’s no question about it,” Harbaugh said. “There’s nobody tougher than him. There’s nobody more passionate than him. There’s nobody who will work harder than him.”
Before learning the diagnosis, teammates spoke about the injury Saturday as if it was potentially serious.
“I’m hurt, bro, because you know how much work he put in, the type of guy he is,” wide receiver James Proche II said. “He’s just a real solid dude, and he loves the game, man, so anytime the game’s taken away from a dude like that, you really feel for him.”
Linebacker Patrick Queen, who was drafted one round ahead of Dobbins in 2020, offered similar words: “That’s my guy. It felt bad at first. I was hoping for nothing, but I know he’s going to be fine regardless of what happens, whatever it may be, whatever the outcome is.”
The Ravens were counting on Dobbins to be their No. 1 running back after he came on strong down the stretch of his rookie season. He rushed for 805 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging an impressive 6 yards per carry. Dobbins, 22, said he planned to become a greater threat as a receiver and breakaway runner in 2021, and the Ravens showed their faith in him by moving on from former starter Mark Ingram II after last season.
With Dobbins out, they’ll ask more of his backfield partner, Gus Edwards. The injury could also create greater opportunities for Justice Hill, who served as the team’s fourth running back last season, and Ty’Son Williams, who came on strong in training camp after spending most of last season on the practice squad.
“Ty’Son has had a great camp,” Harbaugh said Saturday night after Williams carried four times for 42 yards against Washington.
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The Ravens could also look to sign a veteran free agent. In June, for example, they brought in former Los Angeles Rams All-Pro Todd Gurley for a visit. Gurley is still a free agent, as are several other big names from the past, including Frank Gore Sr. and Adrian Peterson.