The Ravens activated running back J.K. Dobbins and safety Marcus Williams off injured reserve Saturday, clearing the way for them to return Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dobbins, who led all NFL running backs in yards per carry as a rookie in 2020, has played in just four games since last season. He tore the ACL, LCL and meniscus in his left knee, along with his hamstring, in the Ravens’ preseason finale last year and was placed on IR on Oct. 21 after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on the same knee.
Williams, the team’s top free-agent signing this offseason, has been sidelined since he suffered a wrist injury in Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He has a team-high-tying three interceptions in five games this season.
Williams was designated to return Nov. 23, giving him three weeks of practice with the Ravens. He’s expected to start alongside defensive leader Chuck Clark, relegating Geno Stone, who impressed as a starter in his place, to a reserve role.
“He’s got fresh legs right now, so he’s moving around really well,” defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said Thursday of Williams. “He’s been going for a couple weeks now, so he looks the same this week as he did weeks prior as he’s kind of getting ready to go.”
Dobbins, who returned to practice Nov. 30, has 35 carries for 123 yards (3.5 per carry) and a touchdown this season, along with six catches for 39 yards and a score. He showed some elusiveness at times earlier this season but lacked the explosiveness that made him a second-round pick in 2020. Harbaugh last month said that Dobbins’ arthroscopic surgery was a “smashing success.”
“I really think that time off and what he was able to take care of is going to make a big impact on his effectiveness,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday. “He’s really excited about being back; we’re excited about having him back.”
Williams’ return should bolster a defense that has turned into one of the NFL’s best in recent weeks, but a healthy Dobbins could be even more important for an offense that will likely be without starting quarterback Lamar Jackson on Sunday.
The Ravens have averaged 4.1 yards per carry since returning from the bye in Week 10, 17th best in the NFL in that span, but just 3.7 yards per carry on designed runs. Gus Edwards, who formed one of the league’s best running back duos with Dobbins in 2020, has 22 carries for 64 yards (2.9 yards per carry) in his two games since returning from a hamstring injury.
To make room for Dobbins, the Ravens released running back Mike Davis. The 29-year-old had eight carries for 18 yards and two catches for 4 yards this season, standing out more as a blocker than a playmaker. With Williams activated, the Ravens placed cornerback Daryl Worley on IR. Worley missed the week of practice with a hamstring injury and will miss at least the team’s next four games.
In other moves, the Ravens promoted rookie quarterback Anthony Brown and safety Ar’Darius Washington from the practice squad for Sunday’s game. Brown’s expected to back up Tyler Huntley, while Washington was called up for the second straight game and the third time this season. He played eight defensive snaps in Sunday’s win over the Denver Broncos.
After being listed as questionable, Steelers starting outside linebacker T.J. Watt, starting wide receiver Diontae Johnson and reserve linebacker Malik Reed are expected to play. Kicker Chris Boswell was also activated off injured reserve after missing four games.
Johnson, who leads the team with 61 catches for 565 yards, had been dealing with a hip injury. Watt, who tied the NFL record with 22 1/2 sacks last season, has been limited to five games because of injuries.
Ravens at Steelers
Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV: Chs. 13, 9
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Steelers by 1 1/2