The Ravens waited until after the NFL draft to sign Gus Edwards, then another 10 weeks of the regular season for “Gus the Bus” to get in drive.
If not for a mother’s intervention, they might have had the only undrafted running back who’s been better.
Denver Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay is seventh in the NFL in rushing yards (780), fourth among qualified players in yards per carry (5.8) and tied for eighth in rushing touchdowns (six). He also was, at one point, just minutes away from agreeing to sign with the Ravens.
In an interview with NBC Sports’ Peter King on “The Peter King Podcast” that was posted Wednesday, Lindsay recounted his confusion and anger at being passed over in the draft, only for “almost all 32 teams” to call him or his agent immediately after the final pick was made. The Ravens, he said, were his top choice.
“We only had 15 minutes to decide,” Lindsay said. “These teams were only giving us 15 minutes to decide where to go, and I’m thinking, ‘Damn, this is where I’m going to be. This is where I have to try to make my living at.’ And for me, I have never been away from home like that. … I ain’t never been to Baltimore in my life. I would have to try to swindle some money up to try to live out there until I had made the team. And at that time, making the team was [like], ‘Damn.’ You don’t have a good chance of making the team.”
After all, Alex Collins was returning after a breakout season, and Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon were young, relatively cheap reserves with established roles.
But Lindsay’s agent was pushing him to remain in Denver. He’d grown up in the city and starred in nearby Boulder for Colorado, twice rushing for over 1,000 yards in a season. C.J. Anderson, the Broncos’ incumbent starter, had just been released, and no other returning running back had rushed for more than 300 yards in 2017.
Amid all the postdraft chaos and confusion, Lindsay said, was his mother, sitting nearby. At one point, it got quiet. She spoke up.
“ ‘Phil, you need to stay home. You need to go to the Denver Broncos,’ ” Lindsay recalled her saying. “And that right there ... when I sat down, I had to let my emotions go and take my pride and put it to the side and I had to really think about it. At that time I had, like, five minutes left. And I called my agent and I said, ‘Let’s go with Denver.’ ”
Coincidentally, maybe his worst game of his season came in Baltimore, held to 20 yards on four carries in a Week 3 loss. He was ejected in the second quarter for throwing punches in a pile after outside linebacker Terrell Suggs strip-sacked quarterback Case Keenum.
“I wear my heart on my sleeve,” Lindsay told King. “I’m just an emotional player. The thing is, I was going for the ball and I tried to punch it out and I ended up hitting somebody. And the ref seen it as me trying to hit somebody.”