Two days after Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Baltimore's preseason finale win against Washington at FedEx Field, coach John Harbaugh explained his stance on playing his starters in exhibition games.
"It's a fair conversation," Harbaugh said before Monday's practice.
Harbaugh noted Dobbins wasn't the only starter expected to shoulder so much of the offensive load this season to get playing time. Franchise centerpiece Lamar Jackson also got some run as did his favorite redzone target tight end Mark Andrews and so, too, the starting offensive linemen. Harbaugh made sure to point out that those vital offensive players featured only sparingly, with Dobbins' workload totaling 23 snaps in the three preseason games.
Still, it took just one of Dobbins' 10 touches in those snaps to suffer such an unfortunate setback.
Harbaugh, who has led Baltimore to an NFL record 20 straight preseason wins, said he's noticed Baltimore's main AFC rivals and divisional opponents in past preseason games play their starters "extensively."
"But there are other teams that don't play their guys at all. They don't play their starters for one snap," Harbaugh said. "I know we're farther down that road than we've ever been. We played our guys so little this offseason. It's just been how we've done it. But any time a guy gets hurt, you ask yourself those questions."
With Dobbins out, Harbaugh expressed full confidence in Gus Edwards, Ty'Son Williams, and Justice Hill to fill the void at running back.
"It's adversity and we have to deal with it and we will," Harbaugh said. "We have the players to do it, we have the team to do it. The guys are excited to practice. I have full confidence in the rest of the the running backs who are here to pick up the load and do a great job for us."