It has been a very long time since Baltimore Ravens running back J. K. Dobbins took the field. As a rookie, Dobbins had 134 carries for 805 yards and nine rushing touchdowns, plus another 120 yards and four scores on 18 receptions.
Dobbins was expected to take over Baltimore’s backfield in 2021 and build on his 6.0 yards per carry to make a push to become a top back in the league, but he suffered a torn ACL in the preseason on August 28, 2021. Dobbins was placed on injured reserve a few days later.
Last Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots offered Dobbins a chance to get back to doing what he loves: play football.
“The emotions were very high,” Dobbins said after the game. “When I got out there, I wasn’t even worried about taking that first hit; I was just worried about making a play. The night before, I was thinking about it, but it was good to get back out there.”
When he did get out there, Dobbins ended up rushing for 23 yards on seven carries and catching two passes for 17 yards.
The long recovery process was a grind for Dobbins. He worked to be back for the season opener during the offseason but began training camp on the physically unable to perform list. He eventually passed a physical and was eligible to return to practice.
Dobbins said the journey was very tough and made him a better man. He missed the first two games of the season before showing enough during the practice week to make head coach John Harbaugh feel he was ready to take the field.
“He was kind of getting to the point where we kind of just felt like this week would be the week, and it just kind of made sense this week in terms of how he looked,” Harbaugh said.
The waiting process made Dobbins’ appreciation for the game increase, but he still feels like there’s unfinished business.
“It felt great. [I’m] blessed to be back out there. I’m the type of guy that – yes, I got back out there, I’m blessed, [and] I’m happy about that, but now it’s time for me to try to do what I do. And that’s run for 100 yards and stuff like that,” Dobbins said.
Dobbins will get his next opportunity to carry the football this week when the Ravens face the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium. Rest assured he’s looking forward to it.
Added Dobbins, “I keep chipping away, keep getting better each week.”