The Baltimore Ravens backfield was decimated last offseason, losing its top two rushers, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, to ACL tears before the season kicked off.
Dobbins returned to practice on Monday, providing hope he could be ready for the start of the 2022 campaign. Edwards remains on the physically unable to perform list.
While those two have garnered most of the attention out of the backfield, there was another running back the Ravens also lost to a season-ending injury last offseason: Justice Hill.
Following Dobbins’ preseason injury Hill was slated for a sizable role in the offense, taking over much of the pass-catching duties. But the back suffered an Achilles injury during practice on Sept. 6, dashing those plans and putting Baltimore’s backfield in crisis mode.
This offseason, Hill has participated in practices and is having a solid training camp as he battles for reps.
“I had a long offseason and just prepared for it,” Hill said via the team’s official website. “I feel good. I don’t have any hiccups. Nothing. It’s feeling great, so it’s really nice and I’m excited to be back out here.”
Coming off a season-ending injury, Hill has impressed running backs coach Craig Ver Steeg, who doesn’t see any mental issues from the back.
“You see guys come back after those long-term injuries, and you want to feel their mindset,” Ver Steeg said. “What we’re feeling out of him is, ‘Give me everything coach.’ You’ve seen us put him in on downhill runs. It’s all coming at him, and he’s ready for it all.”
With Dobbins and Edwards expected back at some point, Hill will battle for snaps with free-agent addition Mike Davis, rookie Tyler Badie, Corey Clement and Nate McCrary.
“When you get just a year to kind of sit back and reflect and get better at things you need to work on, I definitely feel a lot more confident and a lot better at things that I needed to work on,” Hill said. “Coming out here every single day, every single practice, I just want to get better. That’s the gist of the whole room. We just want to get better and help each other get better.”
If healthy, Hill could be used as a pass-catching back, something he showed off earlier this week with a long TD catch on a wheel route. That plan would give the Ravens another receiving option given their question marks at wideout.
On paper, the Ravens have a deep backfield once everyone is healthy. While the focus will remain on Dobbins and Edwards, don’t forget Hill. Given how much the Baltimore staff talked up the 24-year-old back last offseason when Dobbins went down, he could carve off a solid role in 2022 as long as his recovery remains on its current trajectory.
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