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2019 Ravens training camp preview: Running backs

Posted on 10 July 2019 by Luke Jones

With training camp beginning in two weeks and the preseason opener less than a month away, we’ll look at each Ravens position group before players begin reporting to Owings Mills for the first full-squad practice on July 25.

July 9 — Cornerbacks

We continue at running back, a position that already appeared to be in good shape as the Ravens ran the ball better than any team in the NFL over the final seven weeks of the 2018 season. First-year general manager Eric DeCosta didn’t rest on those laurels, however, as Baltimore signed a two-time Pro Bowl selection to a three-year, $15 million contract in March and drafted a speedy running back in the fourth round.

Any running back carrying the ball — not to mention the offensive line — will continue to benefit from the threat of Lamar Jackson, the most explosive rushing quarterback in the NFL. It’s no secret the running game took off when Jackson replaced an injured Joe Flacco in Week 11, and that doesn’t figure to change with new coordinator Greg Roman’s past offensive systems in San Francisco and Buffalo being built around an explosive ground attack.

Offenses are all about the passing game today, so the rush-minded Ravens are certainly going against the grain with many critics skeptical about the offense’s sustainability. But they’re doing it with a unique athlete at the quarterback position and a diverse collection of running backs hoping to create matchup problems for opposing defenses otherwise built to stop the pass in the modern game.

Below is a look at several running backs who stand out for various reasons:

The Man — Mark Ingram
Skinny: Taking nothing away from Gus Edwards and his 5.2 yards per carry average last year, the Ravens didn’t sign the former New Orleans Saint to that deal to play second fiddle to anyone. That’s not to say Ingram will carry the ball 300 times or be a lock to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark with other capable runners on the roster, but the 30-year-old is an underrated receiver and averaged a career-best 3.2 yards after contact per attempt in the shadow of Alvin Kamara last season. Baltimore is expecting big things.

Old Reliable — Ingram
Skinny: Edwards’ inside rushing style should still provide a high floor with the threat of Jackson keeping the ball at the mesh point and taking off on the edge, but Ingram has more than four times as many career rushing yards (6,007) as the rest of the current running back group combined. His reputation as a strong leader in the New Orleans locker room was another selling point after the Ravens watched so many key veterans depart in the offseason.

Under Fire — Kenneth Dixon
Skinny: Dixon reminded everyone of his ability by averaging 5.6 yards per carry in six games last season, but he has played in only 19 of a possible 49 games in his career, has served two drug suspensions, and is entering the final year of his rookie deal. If that weren’t enough, the offseason additions at the position made it clear the Ravens aren’t depending on him to be a big factor. This summer will be crucial for Dixon to force his way into a major role or put himself in position for a better opportunity elsewhere.

Up-and-Comer — Justice Hill
Skinny: It’s difficult to predict just how involved Hill will be as a rookie, but the Oklahoma State product recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time among running backs at the NFL combine and could serve as a change-of-pace back to complement the more physical styles of Ingram and Edwards. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, Hill doesn’t have the size to project as a clear-cut every-down back, but he could be an explosive weapon for the Ravens offense, especially if he develops as a receiver out of the backfield.

Sleeper — De’Lance Turner
Skinny: The undrafted free agent from Alcorn State was active for just four games as a rookie before suffering a hamstring injury, but the Ravens promoted him over Edwards to the active roster last September, a sign of what they thought of him before the latter’s surprising late-season emergence. Depending on what happens with Dixon, Turner could push his way onto the roster as a fourth running back, especially if he shows the home-run ability he flashed last preseason on a 65-yard touchdown run.

The Rest — Gus Edwards, Tyler Ervin, Christopher Ezeala
Skinny: Dismissing Edwards would be a mistake as he appeared to be in great shape this spring and should have no shortage of motivation. It’s worth noting the Ravens have had a different leading rusher four straight seasons and the previous three all moved on by the end of the following year, showing how fleeting success can be for running backs. … Ervin, a 2016 fourth-round pick from San Jose State, had some ball-security concerns in three seasons with Houston, but his experience returning punts and kickoffs will help in his uphill battle for a roster spot.

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cyrusjones

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Ravens add Baltimore native, two others to complete practice squad

Posted on 02 September 2018 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 5:30 p.m. Sunday)

The Ravens valued familiarity in re-signing 10 players who were waived Saturday to their practice squad while also adding a Baltimore native to the mix.

Former New England cornerback and return specialist Cyrus Jones has joined his hometown team’s practice squad. The Gilman graduate was a 2016 second-round pick out of Alabama, but disappointing play and injuries led to him being waived by the Patriots this weekend.

The list of re-signed incumbents was headlined by 2017 fourth-round guard Nico Siragusa and third-year tight end Darren Waller. Baltimore also re-signed offensive lineman Randin Crecelius, running backs Gus Edwards and De’Lance Turner, defensive end Myles Humphrey, wide receiver Tim White, and running back Christopher Ezeala before inking defensive back Robertson Daniel and defensive lineman Christian LaCouture a day later. Ezeala carries an international exemption from the 10-man limit, giving the Ravens 11 players on their practice squad.

Siragusa missed his entire rookie season after suffering a very serious knee injury early in training camp last summer. The San Diego State product was slow to recover this offseason and is still trying to regain his pre-injury form, but he will now be able to continue his development while remaining with the organization.

Waller, a 2015 sixth-round pick, appeared in 18 games in his first two seasons and stood out as a good special-teams player, but he was suspended for the entire 2017 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy and has admitted to using marijuana in the past. The 25-year-old was in contention for a roster spot at the end of the preseason despite being reinstated by the league only last month.

Of the players waived by Baltimore on Saturday, defensive tackle Carl Davis (Cleveland) and offensive tackle Andrew Donnal (Detroit) were the only ones claimed by other teams. Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi was signed to the New York Jets’ practice squad on Monday.

The Ravens were not awarded any players off waivers, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t put in any claims as they were only 16th of the 32 teams on the priority list.

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