Tue, 03 Aug 2021

J.K. Dobbins Is Keeping a Chip on His Shoulder

Baltimore Ravens
16 Jun 2021, 05:25 GMT+10

Ryan Mink

There's plenty of buzz around J.K. Dobbins this offseason as the second-year running back assumes a leading role on Baltimore's run-heavy offense.

But as is often the case with professional athletes, they're always on the lookout for doubters that can provide just a little extra motivation.

So when Pro Football Focus ranked Dobbins as the 26th-best running back in the NFL, he took notice.

"That chip on my shoulder is pretty big," Dobbins said. "Little fuel like PFF ranking me 26th. I don't think I'm 26th. But I love that. That gives me room to improve. I've got people to prove wrong."

Dobbins led all NFL running backs with 6.0 yards per carry last season. Once he and Gus Edwards became the lead backs midway through the season, Dobbins averaged 72 rushing yards per game. He scored a touchdown in seven straight games, including the playoffs.

As he enters this season, Dobbins is poised to become a star. He said the main goal is to "be better than I was last year" but the aim is for it to be a lot better.

"I'm looking for a guy that makes a difference for us. He's someone that we're counting on highly," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "J.K. should take a big step this year in terms of every aspect of his game."

Harbaugh also made sure to mention that he has high expectations for Edwards and third-year running back Justice Hill. With as much as the Ravens run the ball, they need a host of running backs to carry the load.

But with his immense combination of talents, Dobbins could be a Pro Bowl-level player that takes Baltimore's dangerous offense to another level. The Ravens are already scheming more ways to get Dobbins involved in the passing game.

Dobbins caught 18 of 24 targets for 120 yards last season. He showed the same speed, strength and vision as a pass-catcher that he does as a runner, but drops were an occasional problem, including in the playoff loss in Buffalo.

Dobbins had three touchdown grabs in an OTAs practice last week, including one when he skied over linebacker (and fellow Ohio State teammate) Malik Harrison that blew up on social media.

"Shoot, it didn't surprise me. I've been doing that. I can catch the ball a little bit," Dobbins said. "I know I had a few mistakes last year, but this year I've been working on eliminating those mistakes - even the little mistakes. I'm perfecting my craft and making sure I'm ready at all times to catch the ball, do all the stuff. It will be great this year."

For as promising as Dobbins' rookie season was, he knows he's still early in his career and there's a lot of work to be done. Dobbins has never lacked self-confidence, but even as he becomes a centerpiece of the Ravens' offense, he's keeping a head-down mentality.

"Nothing changed with my approach," Dobbins said. "I'm working like I didn't get drafted, like I'm not even on the team, like I'm a guy coming off the streets working for his spot."

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