The Baltimore Ravens endured about as ominous of a preseason as any team can experience. Leading up to their Week 1 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Ravens lost running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill to season-ending injuries, leaving the Baltimore backfield in disarray.
The Ravens opened their 2021 campaign with an overtime loss to the Raiders in Sin City, a heartbreaking back-and-forth affair that will force the team to pick up the pieces before facing off with Patrick Mahomes and the juggernaut Kansas City Chiefs Sept. 19.
The Ravens need a strong running presence behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has emerged as one of the most prolific offensive producers in the NFL. With his top three running backs on the depth chart sidelined for the year, head coach John Harbaugh will have to continue to get creative with veteran free-agent pickups.
Latavius Murray, who spent seven seasons with the Oakland Raiders (2014-2016), Minnesota Vikings (2017-2018) and New Orleans Saints (2019-2020), looks to be the Ravens’ most promising free-agent acquisition at running back. Murray totaled 832 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns last season as a secondary option to star running back Alvin Kamara in New Orleans.
Murray opened his Ravens career with a solid performance in Week 1. He tallied 28 yards on 10 carries and had what appeared to be a game-sealing 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, proving he can be a solid secondary option out of the Baltimore backfield.
Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner said prior to the Ravens’ game against the Raiders that he thought Murray fit “very well” in the Ravens’ system.
“He’s a big guy and he doesn’t have the wear and tear that some guys do at 31 because he’s been a secondary, or complementary, piece for a number of years,” Warner said on Glenn Clark Radio Sept. 13. “But man, he did some great things in New Orleans. He was kind of that change of pace, downhill runner. … I think he would be a great addition to what they do offensively and how they run the football.”
While Murray’s track record certainly bodes well for the Ravens, he will still need to continue to acclimate to the organization. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound running back will need to familiarize himself with a brand new scheme under offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Murray had just days to get up to speed with Baltimore’s system prior to the Raiders game.
Ravens legend and 10-year NFL veteran Jamal Lewis is optimistic that Murray and fellow veteran pickups Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell will be able to contribute sooner rather than later.
“These guys are vets … once you’ve been in one system, you’ve been in them all,” Lewis said on GCR Sept. 10. “It’s just understanding the terminology and the blocking schemes for that particular team.”
“It doesn’t take long,” Lewis added. “It’s just, as long as the team is comfortable that they know what they’re doing and they know the offense.”
Murray earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2015 for a strong season with the Raiders. He rushed for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns and caught 41 passes for 232 yards that year. One of the quarterbacks on that Raiders team was Matt McGloin, who was teammates with Murray from 2014-2016.
McGloin is optimistic Murray will help Baltimore win and believes he’s a great fit for the Ravens’ offense.
“I think [the Ravens] should be excited about having him on their football team and in that running back room. I mean, this is a guy that is just as smart of a player as he is as good of a running back,” McGloin said on GCR Sept. 10. “He’s going to understand what the coaching staff wants out of him. He’s going to go out there and be able to execute a game plan.”
Murray’s ability to impact his team goes far beyond running the ball, according to McGloin.
“He was always someone who took the game extremely serious,” McGloin said. “He worked very hard every single day. You knew what you were getting out of Latavius every single day.”
Murray split time with former undrafted free agent Ty’Son Williams against the Raiders. Williams tallied 94 all-purpose yards with a rushing touchdown on nine carries and three receptions. Although Williams may rack up more snaps, the veteran Murray’s presence in the locker room and the field will play to the Ravens’ benefit.
“For a big guy, who runs as hard as Latavius does — a downhill runner — he’s quick. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, man,” McGloin said.
“He’s played for a long time for a reason, so I think this is a great addition for Baltimore,” he added. “I think he’s a steal for them.”
For more from Warner, listen to the full interview here:
For more from Lewis, listen to the full interview here:
For more from McGloin, listen to the full interview here: