Ordinarily, whenever an NFL team loses their starting running back to injury just before the regular season, it’s a debilitating gut punch that few can recover from. However, the Baltimore Ravens aren’t in such dire straights after losing ascending young star J.K. Dobbins to a torn ACL because Gus ‘The Bus’ Edwards is ready to step up.
“This is what you put the work in to do,” Edwards said. “I never considered myself a backup.”
The fourth-year professional originally signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent from Rutgers in 2018. After not making the initial 53-man roster, he worked his way up from the practice squad to become a key contributor on offense. Edwards is the perfect kind of back to carry the load in the Ravens’ offense. His coaches have the utmost faith in his ability to get the job done.
“We’ve had confidence in Gus since his rookie season,” Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. “He’s our kind of guy. He’s really built for what we do. He’s going to get more of a workload now. Not to say there still won’t be a committee, but Gus is definitely going to get a lot of work and we feel great about that.”
Edwards was elevated from the practice squad six games into his rookie season. By Week 12, he had earned the starting job and was the bell cow for the Ravens as they went 6-1 down the stretch. He has since taken a back seat to more heralded players at his position, such as veteran Mark Ingram in 2019 and Dobbins last year, all the while he was still able to consistently produce. Edwards has rushed for over 700 yards in each of his first three seasons.
While the injury to Dobbins is unfortunate for the second-year pro, it presents Edwards with a golden opportunity to shine in an expanded role. He has faith his coaches will put him in the best position to succeed.
“I know that Coach Roman does a great job using what we have,” Edwards said. “I’ve been ready.
“I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in. I just have to show it.”
Edwards runs with the type of bruising physicality to both set the tone early and pound tired defenders into submission late in games. He believes that all of the Ravens’ running backs have that trait in common as ball carriers.
“One aspect we all have is the physical aspect,” Edwards said. “We have what we need for this offense. That’s why these guys are here because they fit the offense. We’re ready to prove ourselves.”
Edwards knows from first-hand experience what it is like to have a season in which he was poised to be the featured back taken away by injury. He began his collegiate career at the University of Miami before transferring to Rutgers for his final season because he lost his starting job due to injury.
As a junior, he was slated to be the top back in the Hurricanes’ backfield before suffering a Lisfranc foot injury. He can empathize with Dobbins and believes that his teammate will be able to bounce back better than ever.
“I’ve been checking on him,” Edwards said. “He seems to be in a good place. Knowing the type of worker he is, he’s going to come back better. He’s going to come back more hungry.”
Even though the Ravens have maintained that they still intend to use a committee approach in their backfield, Edwards will undoubtedly be the one leading the charge. Ty’Son Williams and Justice Hill will receive their fair share of carries. Still, the wheels on the ‘Gus Bus’ will be in full throttle this season.