A year ago, Ty’Son Williams was trying to stick around the NFL as an undrafted free agent coming off an ACL injury, and he spent much of the 2020 season on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad.
Fast forward a year, and the former BYU running back may have found himself a real chance to contribute on game days for the Ravens.
By Tuesday at 2 p.m. MDT, NFL teams must trim their active rosters to 53 players ahead of the regular season. Through much of training camp and the preseason, Williams looked like he was battling for the third running back spot on the Ravens’ active roster, along with Justice Hill (who filled that role last year) and Nate McCrary, to back up J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.
On Monday, though, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that Dobbins is out for the season with a reported torn ACL suffered in Baltimore’s preseason finale, and the team later placed him on injured reserve.
“Our hearts go out to (Dobbins),” Harbaugh told reporters, per the team’s website. “It’s very challenging because he works so hard, he was so prepared and he was so ready to go this year. He was such a big part of our plans.”
That changed Baltimore’s depth chart and opened an opportunity for Williams to take on a greater role than originally anticipated.
Where could Williams fit in the Ravens’ running back rotation?
Williams’ progress was one of the positive developments from Baltimore’s training camp. After Monday’s confirmation of Dobbins’ injury, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley tabbed Williams the backup to now-starter Edwards, saying he “leapfrogged” Hill on the depth chart.
“Williams impressed the Ravens with his physicality,” Hensley wrote.
Edwards is no stranger to being thrust into the lead back role: he’s started 13 games, including six last year, in his three seasons with Baltimore, and has rushed for 2,152 yards and 10 touchdowns. Edwards has run for over 700 yards every year as a pro.
That leaves Williams and Hill, right now, as the best depth pieces. Hill played in 12 games last season, mainly as a special-teamer as the Ravens’ third back.
After a productive camp and preseason, Williams, too, is right in the thick of the team’s plans as a second-year back.
“Ty’Son, you do the math, he’s there,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll be out there playing. Obviously, he’s ready to go. He’s practiced every day and is excited about his opportunity.”
Another option for Baltimore could be to sign a free-agent running back, and one name that has been associated with the Ravens in the wake of Dobbins’ injury is two-time All-Pro Todd Gurley.
The 27-year-old worked out for the team in June, per NBC Sports, but some have questioned whether his injury history could keep him from signing with Baltimore.
What Williams showed during the preseason
Williams was one of the standouts of the preseason for Baltimore, as he had 24 carries for 130 yards and one touchdown while adding eight receptions for 37 yards. He averaged 5.41 yards per carry.
Williams, who also got in some special teams snaps, scored on a 20-yard run during the Ravens’ second preseason game, showing his ability to keep fighting for yards as he dove for the score. He also scored on a two-point conversion in their preseason opener.
Williams also showcased his strength as a pass protector and in run blocking, as these two plays show during Baltimore’s final preseason game.
Ty’Son Williams had a preseason full of highlights, so it’s only fitting that he takes the RB2 job following the injury to JK Dobbins.— Nic Mason (@British_Raven19) August 30, 2021
On the ball plays get the most airtime, but don’t sleep on his ability to block. What an absolute beast. #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/YTf9lQSsFU
Up next for Williams and the Ravens, as long as Williams survives cuts as expected and makes the 53-man active roster, is Baltimore’s regular-season opener at the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday, Sept. 13.