OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Even John Harbaugh isn't sure what to expect from Dalvin Cook this weekend.
The Baltimore coach sounds ready to put him on the field and find out.
“It’s new. We haven’t seen him out there,” Harbaugh told reporters Thursday. “Just like you guys haven’t seen him, we haven’t seen him.”
Cook was waived after 15 forgettable games this season for the New York Jets. He then joined Baltimore's practice squad and was signed to the 53-man roster this week. Harbaugh says the running back will be an option Saturday when the Ravens play their postseason opener against the Houston Texans.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for him and for us,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll be looking forward to seeing how he does.”
The Ravens posted the best record in the NFL during the regular season. Their offense, led by MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, doesn't need any sort of shakeup. But there's been a bit of a revolving door at running back due to a couple major injuries.
In Week 1, J.K. Dobbins went down with an Achilles tendon injury that ended his season. Eventually, undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell emerged as a speedy big-play threat. He averaged 8.4 yards per carry in a six-game stretch in November and December, and in every one of those games, he had a run of over 20 yards. Then he landed on injured reserve because of a knee injury.
Baltimore has the NFL's top-ranked rushing game despite those injuries. Jackson's running ability at quarterback is a big part of that. And Gus Edwards ran for 810 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Ravens during the regular season. He's been an effective back, and not just in short-yardage situations.
Mitchell was flourishing when he went down in mid-December. Justice Hill has had his moments, scoring three rushing touchdowns and one receiving. Still, with four 1,000-yard rushing seasons to his credit, the 28-year-old Cook could provide an extra boost.
“I’m dialed up. I’m ready to give it all I have — everything I have in the tank,” Cook said. "It’s the playoffs, man.”
There isn't much precedent for what Cook is trying to do — joining a new team just for the postseason and contributing. According to Sportradar, only two running backs since at least 1948 have made their franchise debut in a playoff game and rushed for positive yardage.
In 2008, eighth-year veteran Michael Bennett was released by Tampa Bay and picked up by San Diego in November. He finally played in the team's playoff win over Indianapolis, rushing for 24 yards on four carries.
In 2014, Pittsburgh signed Ben Tate in late December, after he'd already played for Cleveland and Minnesota that season. Star running back Le'Veon Bell ended up missing the Steelers' postseason game against Baltimore, and Tate had 19 yards on five carries. Pittsburgh lost, and Tate didn't play in the NFL again.
Cook rushed for over 1,100 yards as recently as last season with Minnesota, so it's certainly possible the move from New York's offense to Baltimore's could rejuvenate him a bit.
“They call (my) number, that's where I'm going. I’m going to be on the field. I’m ready to make a play,” Cook said. "But for me though, honestly, Gus, Justice, they put the work in all year. You've got to credit those guys, so whatever my role is, whatever they call upon me, they’ll get a thousand percent out of Dalvin.”
NOTES: The Ravens did not activate TE Mark Andrews (ankle) from injured reserve. He hasn't played since Nov. 16, although he was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. ... Baltimore activated WR Devin Duvernay and DB Ar'Darius Washington from IR on Friday, and the Ravens elevated WR Dan Chisena and LB Josh Ross from the practice squad. ... Baltimore signed RB Melvin Gordon to the practice squad after he was waived earlier in the week.
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