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The tale of NFL running backs being a source of drama for many of the wrong reasons spans much of the league and includes some of the most accomplished names at the position.
Saquon Barkley at the start of training camp ended a months-long contract stalemate with the Giants that both sides will have to address again next year because he merely signed a one-year contract. Jonathan Taylor has reportedly asked to be traded from the Indianapolis Colts after the club declined to give him what he believes is a fair contract extension.
Josh Jacobs, tied to the Las Vegas Raiders by the franchise tag, has declined to sign the tag and has not reported to training camp. Jacobs recently told friends he’s not participating in training camp or the preseason and has to think about the regular season.
Dalvin Cook was cut by the Vikings and visited the Jets but left without a contract. Ezekiel Elliott was cut by the Cowboys and Leonard Fournette was cut by the Buccaneers. Both visited the Patriots and left without a contract. Austin Ekeler, unhappy with his contract, asked the Los Angeles Chargers to trade him to no avail.
J.K. Dobbins Joins Unhappy RBs
Lotta drama on these running back streets.
And now we can add J.K. Dobbins of the Baltimore Ravens to the mix.
Wednesday was the ninth day of Ravens training camp and the third day of practices in pads and helmets. Dobbins was not on the field.
That’s no change from any practice since camp opened because he’s on the physically unable to perform list with, well, what everyone presumes is something tied to his knee, which seems far-fetched because he played last season after returning from a surgical cleanup procedure.
Ravens Harbaugh Has Time For RB Concern
So at what point is coach John Harbaugh going to grow concerned his starting running back apparently doesn’t think himself ready or simply doesn’t want to practice?
“You know, I don’t know,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a fair question, and there is a point in time when it does become a concern, because he knows and … J.K. and I talked last night. We talk a lot. He wants to be out there, and he needs to be out there, just like any player does.
“Other than that, there’s nothing else I can really add. I don’t know when he’s going to come back, but I know I’m going to be really happy when he does.”
About the idea Dobbins wants to be out there: It’s a topic worthy of debate.
If the coach and player are talking, as Harbaugh states, and the coach says the player wants to compete, the coach has gotten that from the player.
Dobbins ‘Sitting Out’ is RB Drama
But a totally different message is circling the Baltimore running back room. That comes from recently signed Melvin Gordon.
“I didn’t even know he’s sitting out, but J.K. is sitting out,” Gordon told the Baltimore Banner last week. “They’re not even making a big headline out of it, unless you’re in Indy, I guess. And they got other players sitting out. I didn’t even know J.K. was sitting out until I came here.”
Dobbins is in the final year of his rookie contract. He wants an extension, which is understandable.
The Ravens haven’t given Dobbins a new deal and that’s understandable, too, because Dobbins has been injury prone. He’s played only 23 games in three seasons, missed the entire 2021 season with a serious knee injury suffered in a preseason game, and had to miss more games last season after the cleanup surgery.
So why invest in a running back that’s a durability problem?
To which Dobbins is apparently answering, why practice and play in the preseason when his big injury of 2021 got him that reputation for having durability problems in the first place?
So this indeed could be Dobbins sitting out. Or holding in, as some would say, to avoid a fine.
Ravens Not Extending Others, Either
Dobbins, it must be noted, is not the only fifth-year player on the Ravens wanting an extension. Linebacker Patrick Queen is in the same situation but has chosen to be at camp and practice.
“I think everyone’s situation is different,” Queen said recently. “I know J.K.’s faith is strong, we both trust in God to lead us in the right direction, and wherever that direction may be – ours are totally different right now.
“His situation is different than mine. J.K. has been hurt before. I think he’s seen how scary that side can be. So, I think he has his own perspective on things. I have my own perspective on things, and I think at the end of the day, you have to respect our decisions.”
The Dobbins decision is clear. He’s decided to join the legion of running back unhappy about their contracts and doing what they can to express their dissatisfaction.