OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Running back Latavius Murray said he doesn’t even know all his teammates yet, but a couple of weeks after joining the Ravens, he has already learned one thing about his new team’s dynamic rushing attack: “There’s a lot of ways that we can hurt you,” he said, “and it starts with Lamar just being beside you.”
Led by Lamar Jackson, who ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns, the Ravens piled up 251 rushing yards in their thrilling 36-35 win against the Kansas City Chiefs Sept. 19. Ty’Son Williams led the running backs with 77 yards on 13 carries in that game, while Murray ran nine times for 36 yards and a touchdown, his second in as many games with the Ravens.
Through two games, the Ravens have taken their customary spot atop the league’s rushing rankings, averaging a league-best 220.0 yards a game on the ground. The Ravens set an all-time NFL record with 3,296 rushing yards in 2019, then ran for 3,071 yards last year, the third-highest total ever.
Given that history, Murray probably couldn’t have found a better landing spot after being released by the New Orleans Saints when he reportedly would not agree to a pay cut.
Two days after Murray was cut by the Saints, Ravens running back Gus Edwards suffered a torn ACL in practice — the third Ravens running back to suffer a season-ending injury in a span of 12 days — and in short order, Murray was on his way to Baltimore.
“It all happened fast,” he said. “When I was let go, I was aware of the injuries they had up to that point. Once Gus went down, then I think it maybe became a bigger opportunity. … And it unfolded that way, for sure.”
It happened so fast, in fact, that Murray said, as he spoke at the team facility on Sept. 22, “I don’t know everybody’s names yet. I really don’t. I just say, ‘Whassup.'”
Murray has settled in as the No. 2 back behind Ty’Son Williams, who is quickly making a name for himself as the starter after J.K. Dobbins, Edwards and Justice Hill all were lost for the season.
Murray carried 10 times for 28 yards in the season-opening loss at Las Vegas just a few days after joining the Ravens, and the more he practices, the more he figures to grow comfortable with the read-option style of Jackson, the only quarterback in NFL history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Jackson leads the Ravens in rushing with 193 yards on 28 carries, and Murray said he enjoys having an up-close view of the 2019 league MVP in action.
“It’s been fun,” Murray said. “It’s been different. When you got another running threat lined up next to you play in and play out, it’s obviously a good fit for any back.”
Murray played 21 snaps in his Ravens debut and then 27 against the Chiefs, and the Ravens like using the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder as a power back in the red zone. He scored on an 8-yard run against the Raiders and then on a 5-yard run against the Chiefs.
“That’s a strong guy,” Jackson said. “People don’t want to tackle that man. … He’s a huge guy. I wouldn’t want to tackle him, either.”
Murray noted that age 31, he is the oldest guy in a revamped running back room that also includes Le’Veon Bell, taken four rounds earlier than Murray in the 2013 draft. (Bell is on the Ravens practice squad.) Freeman was drafted in the fourth round a year later. All three have made the Pro Bowl.
“It’s crazy,” said Murray, an eight-year veteran who spent the past two seasons in New Orleans after three in Oakland and two in Minnesota. He added that a few years ago the thought of that trio being in the same running back room “would be a cap problem or something like that, right? But again, I just think … everything has happened for a reason.
“I think we’ve got a special room,” he added, “a lot of veteran play in that room, and so I think we can continue to keep building and make everybody better.”
Murray also said feels motivated after being cut by the Saints.
“When you get let go, you’ve got a chip on your shoulder,” Murray said. “You’ve got something to prove. … I know what I need to do. I know what I’m capable of doing. So there was nothing that needed to be said, and I hope we go out there and just prove that every week, and people see the results.”
OWEH EARNS AFC WEEKLY HONOR: Rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording two of the biggest plays in the Ravens’ thrilling 36-35 win against the Chiefs.
With the Ravens clinging to a one-point lead and the Chiefs driving in the final two minutes, Oweh reached in and stripped the ball from Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, then pounced on the loose ball. The Chiefs never got the ball back.
Earlier, Oweh had tracked down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes from behind, and Mahomes rushed pass was intercepted by Tavon Young, which set up a Ravens touchdown drive. Oweh finished with three tackles, one quarterback hit, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in 38 snaps.
“We don’t win the game without the way he played,” head coach John Harbaugh said the next day. “Obviously the last play on defense, but the rest of the game, too. … He was all over the field. He was involved in coverage. He was involved in second-level rushes, first-level rushes, run defense. Then to come up with that play, it was just a phenomenal football play.”
CB STEPHENS SIGNED TO PRACTICE SQUAD: The Ravens have signed cornerback Linden Stephens to the practice squad. Stephens went undrafted out of Cincinnati in 2018 and originally signed with the New Orleans Saints but did not make the initial roster. He has played in 16 games in his career, including 13 for the Seattle Seahawks last year. Stephens was with the Washington Football Team this summer but was released in the final cutdown.
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