If Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins didn't have awful luck, he'd have no luck at all.
The 24-year-old Dobbins suffered a torn Achilles tendon during Sunday afternoon's Ravens victory over the Houston Texans, ending his second season in the past three years prior to the season's second week. Dobbins previously tore his ACL during training camp in 2021, and he only appeared in eight games during the 2022 campaign.
For Dobbins, the injury is a debilitating career setback, as his latest injury comes just as he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Meanwhile, the Ravens now must piece together a backfield capable of supplementing franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson's explosiveness as a runner and the dynamic playmaking abilities of receivers Odell Beckham Jr., and rookie Zay Flowers.
Dobbins had previously shown to be plenty capable of carving out a niche in the offense, while averaging 5.7 yards per carry and scoring a pair of touchdowns last season.
According to a report from Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, the Ravens plan to elevate veteran back Melvin Gordon from the practice squad to take Dobbins' place on the active roster. However, there could be several upgrades available if Baltimore aims to add quality depth alongside Gordon, Hill, and Edwards in the backfield.
Where do the Ravens go from here? Who are the best options to replace Dobbins' workload in an offense that for years has largely been predicated on a successful running game?
Here's a look at Baltimore's best options at running back:
Stay the Course with Justice Hill, Gus Edwards
At least in the interim, and for Sunday's AFC North showdown in Cincinnati against the Bengals, it would seem most likely that Baltimore will stick with the status quo and turn to Justice Hill and Gus Edwards to soften the blow from losing Dobbins.
In Week 1, Hill found paydirt twice, while rushing for only nine yards on eight carries while Edwards picked up some of the slack when Dobbins was knocked from the contest, by rushing for 32 yards on eight carries.
Sign Free Agent Kareem Hunt
Kareem Hunt remains the most accomplished free agent running back available, though sources from multiple buildings around the league tell FanBuzz that injury concerns are a major reason he has yet to be signed.
Still, Hunt is a dual-threat running back who could be an ideal fit as part of the Ravens' backfield committee and the kind of player offensive coordinator Todd Monken could create some optionality for Jackson with. Hunt's familiarity with the Cleveland Browns would also come as an added bonus to signing the veteran.
Even if Hunt has lost a step, the 28-year-old still produced 678 yards from scrimmage with 4 total touchdowns alongside Nick Chubb in Cleveland last season. If the Ravens are looking for a veteran presence in the backfield, Hunt might prove the best option.
Poach Xazavian Valladay From Jets' Practice Squad
It's poaching season.
Bringing in Valladay wouldn't just be adding an element of explosiveness — the former Wyoming and Arizona State standout averaged 5.3 yards per carry while rushing for 4,466 yards and 35 collegiate touchdowns, but also a bit of intel on a division rival. That's because Valladay spent some time in Steelers training camp, prior to ultimately signing with the Jets' practice squad following final cuts this summer.
Valladay is a youthful — and cheep scheme fit with the chance to learn a thing or two about a bitter rival, which could put him on Baltimore's radar.
Trade for Rashaad Penny
The Eagles made veteran Rashaad Penny a surprising healthy scratch for the season opener on Sunday afternoon, and the 27-year-old appears buried on Philadelphia's depth chart behind Kenneth Gainwell, D'Andre Swift, and even Boston Scott.
Penny is coming off a 419-yard and two rushing touchdown campaign, while splitting carries with upstart rookie Kenneth Walker Jr. in Seattle last season. However, the Eagles invested significant resources in the backfield this offseason, which could relegate Penny to a bit role in Philly's offense.
Given general manager Howie Roseman's propensity for acquiring draft picks, it could be a worthwhile phone call for Eric DeCosta to make, on a player that Baltimore got to see up close and personal during the teams' joint practices during training camp earlier this summer.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.