Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins said Friday that he feels “amazing” more than a year after suffering a serious knee injury, and indicated that his 2022 debut could come soon.
Dobbins, the team’s most talented running back, is considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins. Asked whether he expects to play Sunday, Dobbins crossed his arms as a grin creased his face.
“We’ll see,” said Dobbins, who practiced fully Thursday and Friday for the first time since returning to practice. “That’s the answer I got to give you. But I don’t know. I truly don’t know. Maybe I am, maybe not. We’ll see.”
In his first meeting with reporters since tearing the ACL, LCL and meniscus in his left knee, along with his hamstring, during the Ravens’ 2021 preseason finale, Dobbins was upbeat and candid. He called his season-ending knee injury “one of the toughest injuries I’ve had” and acknowledged the mental toll it had taken.
“I’ve never been injured like this before,” he said. “It’s super hard to be patient. My work ethic is the thing that makes me not patient. I always want to be out there, I always want to be working. When I’m not, I feel like I’m missing something. Being patient is part of this process. I’m getting better at it each day and learning, which is a part of this process and this long career that I hope and pray that I have.”
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Dobbins, who led all NFL running backs in yards per carry as a rookie, was cleared to practice in training camp in early August and has been slowly ramping up. He said he understands the Ravens’ caution; conversations with New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who tore his ACL early in the 2020 season, helped him keep perspective.
“I’m always optimistic,” he said. “I feel like I can go out there and play anytime. That’s how optimistic I am. Getting out there for the first time felt great. I’m always confident, too. The first day, I feel like I could have been out there a week earlier or two weeks earlier. The guys had to stop me, pull me back. That’s why the Ravens organization, they know what type of person I am. I want to go, go, go. But with this knee injury, you got to take it kind of slow sometimes. You’ve got to learn a little patience.”
Dobbins’ patience could be rewarded Sunday. As a rookie, during the coronavirus-warped 2020 season, he played in empty and limited-capacity stadiums. Returning to action inside a packed M&T Bank Stadium, he said Friday, would be “surreal.”
“I’m excited for that,” he said. “A lot of doubters in my mind. A lot of people see the Michael Jordan thing, where he takes everything personal. That’s me. Not to compare myself to Michael Jordan, but I take every little thing I see, everything. The grass could move wrong and I could think it’s talking about me. I can’t wait to do that.”