The last time Baltimore Ravens’ running back J.K. Dobbins addressed the media was on January 15, following the team’s devastating 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wildcard round of the postseason.
He didn’t have a smile on his face and was understandably frustrated. The former second-round pick had strong game with 105 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 17 combined touches. The Ravens had the two-time defending AFC North champions on the ropes until disaster struck in the form of a 98-yard fumble return instead of a go-ahead touchdown.
Dobbins did not mince words expressing his frustration about the loss. He felt like the outcome could’ve been different had be been more involved later in the game.
Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins said the offense never should’ve been been in the position where it needed a QB sneak.— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) January 16, 2023
“I didn’t get a single carry” in the red zone.
He adds: “I should be the guy” down close to the goal. He is pissed. pic.twitter.com/ZNJIYunNRa
Seven months later, he stepped to the podium and spoke to reporters with a renewed optimistic outlook on his role in the Ravens’ new offense and long-term future with the franchise.
“I’m pretty dang confident, especially coming off of the end of the year last year,” Dobbins said. “A lot of people could see that I wasn’t all the way 100% healthy, but [I] still had some pretty good games there. But I always say, those games [where] I had good games could have been even better if I was 100%. So, if I get the volume as some of the other guys, it’ll be a really good year.”
The knee scope procedure that Dobbins underwent during the season helped him become one of most productive ball carriers in the league. However, as he admitted, he just wasn’t able to reach that final gear to turn long runs into touchdowns in the open field.
While he wasn’t the same home run threat upon his initial return, Dobbins was averaging 6.9 yards per carry and 99.25 rushing yards per game in his final four regular season appearances. Those were the best marks in the league during that span.
“I do think that [if I’m] healthy, I can be one of the top [running] backs in the league,” Dobbins said. “That flashes sometimes, but I just have to prove it, and I am going to prove it one day. One day, it will happen.”
While he doesn’t want to be a “ball hog”, Dobbins would like the Ravens to continue feeding him in games the rushing attack is clicking on all cylinders and producing at a high level.
“Hopefully, I have a hot hand this year, and everyone has a hot hand so defensive coordinators are having nightmares when they see the Ravens on the schedule, because we have so many weapons,” Dobbins said. “We have an amazing quarterback; we have an amazing [offensive] line [and] an amazing defense. We really have a lot of tools here, so hopefully it will be a good year for all of us.”
Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, Dobbins said that he feels a 100 percent healthy now that he is nearly two years to removed from suffering his major knee injury. He said was able to spend this offseason training to get faster and stronger, not rehabbing to return to pre-injury form.
“My knee felt good [last year], my body felt good, but I didn’t have the offseason that I needed to be me,” Dobbins said. “I didn’t have all my speed there and stuff like that. But now it’s a little different.”
Dobbins wasn’t present for the voluntary portion of the team’s offseason program. He also didn’t take the practice field for mandatory minicamp or the first few weeks of training camp. Many speculated or reported that he was holding-in because he sought a new or altered contract. However, when asked the reasoning for his absence from actual practices, Dobbins said that he “was just being cautious.”
“My teammates need me, so I want to be there for my teammates and that’s all it was,” Dobbins said. “My teammates understood what was going on. So, it’s all good now. I’m out here.”
As it pertains to his standing with the organization, Dobbins said he maintains a good relationship with both General Manager Eric DeCosta and Owner Steve Bisciotti. He also said he’d like to spend the remainder of his football career with the Ravens.
“When the time [comes], I’m going to go out there and play and do [well],” Dobbins said. “Hopefully, I’m playing for the Ravens for the rest of my life, for my football career.”