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Ravens 2021 Position Review: Running Back

Injuries forced the team to turn to a veteran bunch that were past their respective primes but still showed some juice.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

After a turbulent 2021 season that was ravaged and ultimately derailed by injuries, the Baltimore Ravens are fully focused on moving forward. Before we completely turn the page to the 2022 offseason, let’s look back at the overall performance of their running back position group from this last year. Devastating season-ending injuries depleted their backfield that was being touted as arguably the best until J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill went down within two weeks from each other.

Devonta Freeman

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

2021 stats: 16 games, eight starts, 133 rushes, 576 rushing yards, 4.3 yards per carry, five touchdowns, 42 targets, 34 receptions, 190 receiving yards, 5.6 yards per catch and one touchdown.

The two-time Pro Bowler didn't put up gaudy stats and didn't have the unexpected one-year-wonder season that the Ravens have gotten from other discarded players at the position like Justin Forsett in 2014 or Alex Collins in 2017. However, he was the most consistent, efficient and productive of the bunch.

Freeman was the best pass protector and pass catcher out of that backfield for the Ravens in 2021. He showed more juice and explosiveness than anyone thought he had left in the tank and juked his way to forcing many missed tackles.

Latavius Murray

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

2021 stats: 14 games, six starts, 119 rushes, 501 rushing yards, 4.2 yards per carry, six touchdowns, 13 targets, 10 receptions, 75 receiving yards, and 7.5 yards per catch.

With Gus 'The Bus' lost for the year the Ravens turned to the 32-year-old former Pro Bowler to be their goal-line/short-yardage power back. Murray had a nose for the goal line early on in the year with a rushing touchdown in four of the first six games and was better than expected as a pass catcher out of the backfield when called upon. His best game came in the regular season finale when he ran ragged all over the Pittsburgh Steelers defense to the tune of 150 rushing yards on 16 carries, had a long rushing touchdown and averaged a season high 9.4 yards per carry.

Ty’Son Williams

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2021 stats: 13 games, three games, 35 rushes, 185 rushing yards, 5.3 yards per carry, six touchdowns, 12 targets, nine receptions, 84 receiving yards, and 9.3 yards per catch.

After being one of the brightest stars in the preseason and posting an impressive first two games of the regular season, the 2020 undrafted free agent fell out of favor with the coaching staff. For reasons that were speculated upon but never revealed, he went from being a projected bell cow/breakout candidate to being buried on the depth chart and sparingly used on offense.

In exhibition games and the first eight quarters of the year, Williams was the most explosive and dynamic running back that took the field for Ravens. There's no telling how his fate will unfold heading into year three because not only are the Ravens getting three players back, they might use the draft to add another tailback to the talented position group.

Le’Veon Bell

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

2021 stats: Five games, 31 rushes, 83 rushing yards, 2.7 yards per carry, two touchdowns, three targets, and one reception for -1 receiving yard.

The former two-time All Pro’s stint with the Ravens was short-lived. Of the veterans they signed, he showed the least amount juice. Bell moved the chains decently well in the second half of a handful of games in short-yardage situations and picked up some hard yards when the offense need to salt some time off the clock. He was unceremoniously released on Nov. 16 and finished the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.