Two Baltimore Ravens running backs have tested positive for Covid-19, as reported by Mike Garofolo of NFL Network.
This is a bombshell that could not be coming at a worse time for the slumping Ravens, as a win on Thursday against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers is all but mandatory for the Ravens to remain in the hunt for an NFC North title.
Ingram has accumulated 232 yards from 57 carries so far in the 2020-21 season and has added two touchdowns to his totals. Dobbins has truly broken out this year, as he is the number one running back for the team and has rushed for 380 yards across 72 carries and has put three touchdowns on the board for Baltimore.
Running back Gus Edwards will be the man for the foreseeable future, and he is currently the team’s second most used running back, having accrued 376 yards from 85 attempts and adding three touchdowns himself. Running back Justice Hill is also back in the mix, and despite not having a rushing attempt this season, he is only removed from a 225-yard, two-touchdown campaign last season.
How will this affect Thursday’s game? Well, it could cause the game to be delayed, as it is unlikely that contact tracing won’t show other players having been exposed to the virus. If this happens, this game will 100 percent be played at a later date, as the game will have playoff implications for both teams.
If the game is played, then Lamar Jackson will have to beat the Steelers. This is not solely resulting from this diagnosis, but losing two running backs puts more focus on Jackson, who was already the Ravens leading rusher. The ball will likely be in Jackson’s hands most of the time when the Ravens have the ball, and he will likely be throwing much of that time.
Jackson has a lot to prove in this situation, but so does his team as a whole. Jackson is a star player, and while a good performance will further solidify this, a bad one could bring some doubters out of their caves. The game also serves as an opportunity for Edwards to solidify himself as the true No. 1 running back and for Hill to get himself back in the rotation.
The Steelers go into the game with a huge advantage, and they must capitalize on it. The Kansas City Chiefs are only trailing by a game for the AFC’s first seed, and that distinction is more important than ever with this year’s expanded playoffs. Every win is huge for ensuring that title, and Thursday is a very winnable game for the Steelers.
Regardless of the action on the field, it is important to offer sympathy to Ingram, Dobbins, and any others affected by this news. The virus has been creeping back up to alarming numbers again and situations like this only make the situation even more real.