The Ravens officially signed running back Latavius Murray to the 53-man roster and added running back Devonta Freeman to the practice squad as the overhaul of their injury-ravaged running back room continued.
The moves come one day after running back Gus Edwards and cornerback Marcus Peters both suffered season-ending knee injuries, which were confirmed by head coach John Harbaugh when he met with the media Sept. 10.
In the past two weeks, the Ravens have lost their top three running backs to season-ending injuries. J.K. Dobbins suffered a torn ACL in the final preseason game at Washington Aug. 28, and Justice Hill, the presumptive No. 3 back, reportedly suffered a torn Achilles in practice last week.
In their place, the Ravens now have Murray and Trenton Cannon on the 53-man roster, and veterans Freeman and Le’Veon Bell on the practice squad. They join second-year back Ty’Son Williams, the only back on the roster who was with the team this summer and who suddenly becomes the Ravens’ No. 1 back despite having never played in an NFL game.
The Ravens open the season Sept. 13 on “Monday Night Football” at the Las Vegas Raiders.
Murray, 31, is in his eighth NFL season and spent the last two with the Saints. He was released by the Saints earlier this week, reportedly after he refused to take a pay cut.
Murray had 146 carries for 656 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games last year and made the Pro Bowl in 2015 with the Oakland Raiders when he ran for a career-best 1,066 yards and six touchdowns. He also has 185 career catches, including 23 last year.
“His style fits what we do,” Harbaugh said. “You’ve seen our offense. I think you can picture him pretty easily in our offense.”
Cannon is viewed as more of a special teamer who draws comparisons to Hill. When camp began, Hill was competing to be the Ravens’ No. 3 back and a special teams contributor.
With Williams, Murray and Cannon all on the active roster, the Ravens could go to Las Vegas with three active backs. They could also promote a back from the practice squad, and that would most likely be Freeman.
Harbaugh said Bell, the three-time Pro Bowl pick signed by the Ravens earlier this week, reported in “great shape.” But without the benefit of any NFL training camp this summer, “He’s got to get in football shape a little bit, get his sea legs football-wise,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh didn’t say how the running back workload would be handled at Las Vegas, and the running game for now will likely center around quarterback Lamar Jackson, the only quarterback in league history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
But Harbaugh suggested that Murray and Freeman are both game-ready after being in training camp with the New Orleans Saints this summer. Likewise, Cannon, also signed this week, had been with the Carolina Panthers.
“Now we’ve got to get them up to speed with the playbook,” Harbaugh said. “What can they take into the game Monday night? That’s what we’ve got to figure out over the next two practices over the next couple of days. … Just make a specific game plan for what they’re ready for.”
EDWARDS, PETERS INJURIES CAME IN NONCONTACT DRILLS: Harbaugh confirmed that the season-ending injuries sustained by Edwards and Peters came in noncontact drills. “Gus made a cut, left to right cut, and landed wrong on his ankle and weight ended up going on his knee,” Harbaugh said, calling it a “fluke deal.”
As for Peters, “He was just kind of turning, pivoting on a turn, a basic turn that he makes dozens of times every single practice.”
TE NICK BOYLE PLACED ON INJURED RESERVE: Harbaugh also announced that tight end Nick Boyle will be placed on injured reserve as he continues to recover from the knee injury that ended his season early last year. After spending training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Boyle had returned to practice last week, but problems with his knee lingered and he has missed practice this week.
Harbaugh said Boyle, the Ravens’ top blocking tight end, will be shut down temporarily to “get his knee right, get his body right.” Because he was on the initial 53-man roster, Boyle’s IR stint could be as little as three weeks.
T RONNIE STANLEY SAYS RAVENS “PUSH FORWARD” AFTER “VERY DEPRESSING” DAY: Tackle Ronnie Stanley said the mood was “very depressing” around the Ravens facility on Sept. 9 after Edwards and Peters suffered their injuries. “The energy was definitely down, and deservedly so,” Stanley said. “We lost two of our brothers, and to see them in pain, no one wanted to see that happen.”
Stanley said players returned a day later “with a mindset that we’re going to push forward and we’re going to be even better … for those guys.”