Tagged in: running back

Jacksonville Jaguars’ Travis Etienne on track with rehab after missing ’21 with foot injury

Missing his entire rookie season because of a foot injury was rough on Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr., but the 25th overall pick in 2021 managed to find a bit of a silver lining.

At least he wasn’t as fully immersed in Urban Meyer’s disastrous 11-month tenure — which ended shortly before 1 a.m. on Dec. 16 — as his teammates were.

“Just seeing the results, you’re definitely like, ‘Whew, if there was any year to miss, I missed a great one,'” he said.

Jokes aside, Etienne is happy to be back on the field for the beginning of the Jaguars’ voluntary offseason conditioning program under new head coach Doug Pederson.

He stated he’s still limited in some of his weight-room work but is doing “the majority of the stuff” in terms of on-field work and is 85-90% recovered from the Lisfranc injury to his left foot that he suffered during a preseason match last August.

He expects to be fully cleared by training camp. Etienne said the only time the injury still bothers him is after a long workout. Then it’s a little sore.

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“It’s actually crazy because I was talking to my mom about this the other day,” Etienne said. “If I didn’t know I had a screw in my foot, I couldn’t tell. I feel like that’s a testament to where I’m at in my transition and how I’m healing.

“The screw is there. I think I will take it out. I could leave it there forever. I know most guys say leave it there, it never bothers them, but I just don’t want to be 40 years old with a screw in my foot, really.”

Etienne makes light of the injury now, but he wasn’t handling things as well in the days and months after his surgery.

The pain was pretty intense in the first 48 hours, and he couldn’t put any weight on his foot for six weeks, which left him homebound and a little depressed.

It wasn’t until he was able to get back into the Jaguars’ facility to start rehab that he started feeling better.

“I didn’t realize it then, but I kind of was in a depressed state, just not being able to do the things I love to do,” Etienne said. “It was my foot, so I couldn’t do anything. So it was just really weird, and I really didn’t realize how much it took a toll on me, but having my mom there, she kind of helped me just stay in tune with myself and not let me lose myself. When I was able to get back into the building to the guys, that really helped me a lot, just seeing them each and every day and just living through them.”

It’s still too early to know how the Jaguars plan to use Etienne this season. Meyer envisioned a Percy Harvin-type role for Etienne as a rookie, which is similar to the way the San Francisco 49ers use Deebo Samuel.

Etienne said he’d be fine with that, but he might have to be the Jaguars’ feature running back early in the season if James Robinson isn’t fully recovered from the Achilles injury he suffered last December.

Regardless of how the Jaguars use him, they need him to produce the kinds of big plays he did at Clemson. The Jaguars had 31 big plays (runs of 20 or more yards and receptions of 30 or more yards) the last two seasons, which ranked last in the NFL.

Etienne was one of the most explosive players in the country during his four seasons at Clemson. He led all players in the NCAA with 55 runs of 20 or more yards from 2017 to ’20. On those big plays, he scored 21 touchdowns and rushed for 2,053 yards, an average of 37.3 yards per rush.

Etienne also had six receptions of 30 or more yards, giving him 61 explosive plays.

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Buffalo Bills agree to deals with Duke Johnson, Jamison Crowder

The Buffalo Bills made two moves to bolster their offense Monday, agreeing to a deal with veteran running back Duke Johnson while also reportedly signing receiver Jamison Crowder to a one-year contract.

Johnson is signing a one-year deal with the team, his agents, Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The moves comes after Buffalo had lost out on running back J.D. McKissic to the Washington Commanders last week.

The Bills originally agreed to terms with McKissic last Tuesday, but the Commanders ended up swooping in, and — after initially not offering McKissic a deal — gave him a two-year contract worth up to $7 million, similar to what Buffalo was offering.

“I’ve had it before where the agent has agreed with you on something and then someone else calls and says, ‘Hey, what if I add a million dollars? Or what if I do this? What if I guarantee this?'” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said last week, expressing his frustration with how Washington handled the situation.

“Once you have an agreement the agent’s supposed to say it’s over. And this agent did that. And this agent told the other club it’s over. But the other club didn’t back off.”

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Similar to McKissic, Johnson, 28, has had success as a receiving back in the past, starting his career with five consecutive seasons with 400-plus receiving yards. He has 12 career receiving touchdowns after spending four seasons with the Browns, two with the Texans and one with the Dolphins.

The 2015 third-round pick played in five games for the Dolphins last year and had some success on the ground.

Johnson had two 100-yard rushing performances in the last four games of the season and 330 total rushing yards and three touchdowns on 71 carries for Miami.

Buffalo needed to add depth to the running back room after Matt Breida hit free agency following one season with the Bills and signed with the New York Giants on Monday. Breida saw limited action with the Bills, playing on 13.1% of the team’s offensive snaps. Johnson will likely be in a similar position on the roster and will have to earn his snaps.

Crowder, who turns 29 in June, led the Jets in receptions in each of the last three seasons, becoming the first player since Jerricho Cotchery (2007-09) to do that. On the downside, his production dropped each year, as he went from 78 catches to 59 to 51, with injuries as a big factor.

Plagued by soft-tissue leg injuries, Crowder missed nine matches over the last two seasons. He was on the reserve/COVID-19 list for one of those games while recovering from a groin injury.

Despite the injuries, Crowder has been one of the league’s most productive slot receivers. From 2019 to ’21, the 5-foot-9, 177-pound Crowder caught 132 passes out of the slot, eighth-most in the NFL.

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New York Giants release tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Devontae Booker

The New York Giants have releasing veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Devontae Booker, the team revealed Wednesday.

“Certainly not the year any of us expected, but a year we will never forget,” Rudolph wrote earlier Wednesday in social media posts. “… Thanks to everyone in the building who took in and helped this old guy who needed to relearn everything about a new organization.”

Rudolph texted ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he is not retiring and intends to play next season. Rudolph, 32, had just 26 catches for 257 yards with a touchdown in his only year with the Giants.

It was one of the least productive seasons of an accomplished career in which he made two Pro Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings in 2012 and ’17.

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His release was a rather easy decision for the Giants and a new regime led by general manager Joe Schoen, who stated Tuesday the team would have to make “tough” decisions to reach his goal of cutting $40 million off the salary cap.

Rudolph was arranged to count $7.4 million against the cap this year. The Giants save $5 million with the move, even if it includes $2.4 million in dead money.

By releasing Booker, who averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season, the Giants will save an additional $2 million.

New York will need to address the tight end position in free agency and/or the draft. Starter Evan Engram also is scheduled to be a free agent.

The signing of Rudolph was questionable from the start by former general manager Dave Gettleman. After agreeing to terms on a two-year deal worth $12 million last offseason, it was discovered that Rudolph would need surgery on a foot injury that limited him the previous season.

The Giants, however, decided to honor the contract and Rudolph missed the entire spring and most of the summer. He never really hit his stride in New York as it appeared he lost a step while struggling to create separation — averaging just 2.9 yards per separation, per NextGen Stats. He averaged 4.0 yards and 3.4 yards of separation in the two previous seasons.

Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame, had spent the previous 10 seasons with the Vikings. Only his rookie season and 2014 — when he missed almost half the year with injuries — was he less productive than this past season.

He has 479 catches for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns in his professional career.

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Seattle Seahawks sign veteran Adrian Peterson to practice squad

The Seahawks are taking a look at Adrian Peterson to see what the veteran running back might have left in his Hall of Fame career.

Coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Wednesday that the Seahawks signed the 36-year-old Peterson to their practice squad as a potential reinforcement for their banged-up backfield.

“Excited to see if he can help us out and give us a little something,” Carroll stated. “He’s a player that I’ve known forever — way back to his high-school days — and admired him tremendously over the years. Always disappointed we didn’t get him back in the day, but like I just told him, we finally got him.

So I’m looking forward to seeing how he does and where he can fit in. He’s an incredible competitor and a great guy, so I’m anxious to give him a chance to get on the field with our boys.”

Peterson was waived last week by the Tennessee Titans, who signed him after losing star Derrick Henry to a broken foot. He carried 27 times for 82 yards and a touchdown in three matches.

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Carroll held off on any comments about what Peterson may add to Seattle’s backfield, saying he needs to see him practice first.

The Seahawks (3-8) are in what Carroll described as “recovery mode” in practice these next few days as they prepare to host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, having lost to the Washington Football Team on Monday night before making the cross-country trip back home.

“I’ve got to wait and see how he does out here,” Carroll said. “I’ve watched the film and seen him play. He plays just as tough and aggressive as he ever has, so I’m anxious to see what he adds to the club. He’s fired up about it, too.”

Peterson ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,902 career rushing yards. He spent his first 10 campaigns with Minnesota and then had stints with Arizona, New Orleans, Washington and Detroit before his most recent one in Tennessee.

The Seahawks rank 25th in the league with 92.5 rushing yards per game. They’ve been without their preferred No. 1 running back, Chris Carson, since Week 5 because of a neck injury that required season-ending surgery. Alex Collins has started in his absence and has only topped 50 yards rushing once in that seven-game span.

Collins and DeeJay Dallas combined for 18 rushing yards on 10 carries against Washington as Rashaad Penny (hamstring) and Travis Homer (calf) were inactive due to injuries. Undrafted rookie Josh Johnson was elevated from the practice squad for that game but only played on special teams.

Carroll didn’t know whether Penny or Homer will be available Sunday versus the 49ers, though he said the word from trainers is that Penny will practice.

The Seahawks’ loss to Washington all but eliminated their opportunities of making the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

Carroll was asked about the thinking behind adding Peterson versus giving a look to a younger back like Johnson.

“We’re trying to get ready to win this football game,” Carroll said. “So I’m going to see if Adrian has got something to offer us. Just in his presence and his toughness, he brings something. So let’s see what happens. We’re just trying to get the right mix. Rashaad’s been in and out. We’ve been concerned about him getting back and staying back. Homer has been banged up and we’re not sure about him this week either. So it just looks like there’s some opportunities.

“So we’ll see how it goes and see how the guys respond. I’m as excited as probably you guys are just to see what he looks like playing in our uniform and doing something for us, so we’ll see how it goes.”

The Seahawks made two other additions to their practice squad Wednesday with receiver Cade Johnson and free safety Elijah Benton. Johnson was previously on Seattle’s practice squad.

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New Orleans Saints again to be without RB Alvin Kamara vs. Buffalo Bills

Running back Alvin Kamara has been ruled out for the third consecutive week with his knee injury as the New Orleans Saints prepare to host the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving night.

Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (knee) and defensive ends Marcus Davenport (shoulder) and Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle) were also ruled out for Thursday’s game.

Running back Mark Ingram II (knee) and left tackle Terron Armstead (knee/shoulder) are listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday.

If Ingram is out or limited, the Saints will obviously be short-handed at running back. Second-year pro Tony Jones Jr., RB/WR Ty Montgomery and backup quarterback Taysom Hill would likely be among those who fill the void.

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Kamara is not expected to be sidelined long term, and he was not placed on injured reserve after he first started experiencing knee soreness during the Saints’ Week 9 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

The Saints will play another Thursday night match at home versus the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13 before having three extra days between games in Week 14.

Kamara has obviously been missed in a depleted Saints offense that has been short on playmakers in the passing game all season.

He leads the team with 840 yards from scrimmage, 7 touchdowns and 32 receptions this season.

The Saints (5-5) have battled injuries all season — but especially over the past month (including quarterback Jameis Winston’s season-ending ACL tear and receiver Michael Thomas’ season-ending setback with an ankle injury).

The Saints have hit a three-game losing streak for the first time since 2016

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Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones out 1-2 weeks with ‘mild’ MCL sprain

An MRI revealed that Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones has “a mild” MCL sprain and is expected to be out one to two weeks, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.

Jones left Sunday’s 17-0 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the third quarter with a knee injury, reaching for his right knee at the end of a 6-yard gain. On the CBS TV broadcast, Tracy Wolfson reported that Jones left the medical tent in tears and went to talk to his family.

Jones has suffered MCL sprains before, including one to his right knee during the 2018 season. He missed the final two games of that season. As a rookie in 2017, he missed two games in the middle of the season because of an MCL sprain and then also sat out the season finale because of a similar injury.

The Packers missed the playoffs in both of those seasons, so it’s unknown when Jones could have returned. Packers coach Matt LaFleur sounded relieved on Monday that it wasn’t a worst-case, season-ending injury for Jones.

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“I don’t think it’s going to be long term, but we’ll just monitor it on a daily basis and see how fast he can heal up, because he’s certainly a guy you want out on the field,” LaFleur said. “He does so much for our team, just not only from a production standpoint, but also just the energy he brings to our team is pretty contagious.”

The Packers signed Jones to a four-year, $48 million deal in March.

He had four catches for 61 yards and seven carries for 25 yards when he left the game.

Second-year running back AJ Dillon totaled 128 yards of offense (66 yards on 21 carries and 62 yards on two catches) and two touchdowns versus the Seahawks.

In other injury news, Packers OLB Rashan Gary plans to brace his hyperextended elbow to see if he can try to play Sunday against the Vikings, a source told Schefter. Gary has an MRI on his elbow scheduled for Tuesday to see if anything gets in the way of his plans.

A source also told Schefter that fellow outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus has a torn biceps and will miss the rest of the season. The Packers signed the veteran pass-rusher last month, and he had first sack with the Packers on Sunday against the Seahawks.

“Yeah, that’s a tough one,” LaFleur said. “Man, I feel bad for him. Shoot, he would’ve had potentially a second sack right there. Just the stability he brings to that room and this guy’s a pro’s pro. He’s been doing this at a very high level for a long time. It’s just one of those unfortunate things that happen.”

Even if Gary doesn’t miss a match, the Packers are thin at outside linebacker. There’s no timetable for Za’Darius Smith to return from his back surgery; he has not played since the season opener.

The Packers on Saturday released outside linebacker LaDarius Hamilton, but perhaps general manager Brian Gutekunst will re-sign him.

“I think that’s something that Gutey and our entire scouting department is looking at every potential option,” LaFleur said. “We have some guys on our practice squad and we’ll just kind of see where we have to go.”

Quarterback Blake Bortles’ two-week stint with the Packers, meanwhile, is over. With Aaron Rodgers back and now Kurt Benkert off the reserve/COVID-19 list and back on the practice squad, Bortles was released Monday.

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RB Mark Ingram traded by Houston Texans, reuniting him with New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have reunited their dynamic running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram by getting Ingram in a trade with the Houston Texans, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The deal contains a swap of late-round picks, the source said. NFL Network first reported the trade, the second in two months between the Saints and Texans after New Orleans acquired veteran cornerback Bradley Roby in Week 1.

The Saints desperately needed running back depth after releasing veteran Latavius Murray in September and losing backup Tony Jones Jr. to injury. So they turned to one of the most popular and productive backs in franchise history.

Ingram, 31, spent his first eight campaigns in New Orleans after being drafted in the first round in 2011, tallying 6,007 rushing yards, 1,598 receiving yards and 55 touchdowns before the Saints let him leave as a free agent in 2019. Ingram is just 89 rushing yards behind Deuce McAllister for New Orleans’ franchise record.

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At their peak, Ingram and Kamara were one of the best running back duos in NFL history.

Nicknamed “Boom and Zoom,” they became the first duo ever to both surpass 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season in 2017, and the first in more than 40 years to both make the initial Pro Bowl roster.

Murray proved to be an excellent replacement from 2019 to 2020, while Ingram had success with the Baltimore Ravens. But the Saints missed both veterans this year while relying more than ever on Kamara as a one-man show.

Kamara is on pace to break his career high for carries in a season by more than 100, and he reached 30 touches in a game for just the second time in his career in Monday night’s 13-10 victory at Seattle. Kamara was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

“Aye @markingramII ….. we back,” Kamara tweeted in response to the reported trade.

Ingram was the Texans’ lead back this season, running for 294 yards and a touchdown on 92 carries on a team that ranks last in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

With his trade to New Orleans, the Texans now have four running backs on their roster: veterans David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead and second-year pro Scottie Phillips. Phillips has been inactive for all but one game this season, but just played on special teams.

Earlier in the month, the Texans moved on from veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who signed with the Green Bay Packers after he was released by the Texans. Mercilus, a first-round pick in 2012, was one of the longest-tenured Texans players on the roster.

Since Ingram signed in Houston, coach David Culley has spoken about the importance of the running back on the roster because of his leadership role in the locker room.

After the trade was reported Wednesday, wide receiver Brandin Cooks appeared to react to the move on Twitter, writing, “This is bulls—. Such a joke.”

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New England Patriots trade CB Stephon Gilmore to Carolina Panthers for draft pick

A trade for New England Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the return of Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey helped the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday get over their first loss of the campaign.

Both happened almost simultaneously as players made their way to the practice field.

The Gilmore trade in particular brightened the mood.

“That’s pretty dope, man,” cornerback Donte Jackson said.

Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England for Gilmore, who had been set to be released later in the day. The 31-year-old from nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, is expected to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6.

Fitterer stated he expects Gilmore, who is arranged to be in Charlotte for a physical on Thursday, to be ready for an Oct. 24 game versus the New York Giants

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McCaffrey could be available to play on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after missing a 36-28 loss at Dallas with a hamstring injury.

Coach Matt Rhule said his star back looked good in practice Wednesday despite being limited and likely would be a game-time decision.

The Panthers got wind that Gilmore might be available on Tuesday night. That turned to reality on Wednesday morning when it was announced the Patriots planned to release the four-time Pro Bowl corner, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a partially torn quad.

Gilmore became available because the Patriots were unable to get the corner to agree to a restructured deal. The Panthers beat out several other teams that showed interest in trading for Gilmore.

They will be responsible for $5.8 million of Gilmore’s 2021 contract. Fitterer said Gilmore agreed to play the remainder of the season without an extension, but he’s open to one after the year.

Much depends on how Gilmore plays. Coach Matt Rhule said he can’t wait to get Gilmore on the field.

“I think anytime you can get a [former] All-Pro player for a future sixth, we’re going to do it, right?” he said. “… This was just one of those things where it was too good to pass up. He’s too good of a player and he’s from here. Football character-wise, he just adds to the core of what we are.”

The need for a cover corner stated when Carolina lost first-round pick Jaycee Horn to a broken foot in a Sept. 23 win at Houston. Fitterer traded last week for Jacksonville’s C.J. Henderson, a first-round pick in 2020.

Henderson remains somewhat of a project.

“C.J. is for the future,” Fitterer said. “Stephon is to win now.”

Fitterer also didn’t rule out that Horn could return late in the season or possibly the playoffs, if Carolina qualifies, after undergoing surgery. But he made it clear the goal is to make the playoffs.

Gilmore gives the Panthers a veteran who can have a positive impact on a young secondary until then and one who can be an asset if Carolina makes the playoffs.

He also happens to live three doors down from Fitterer in a neighborhood south of Charlotte. Fitterer called Gilmore a “quality guy” who will be a “great presence for the younger guys.”

Gilmore and Patriots coach Bill Belichick had both offered public goodbyes before the announced trade.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold faced Gilmore twice when he was with the New York Jets, so he’s glad he won’t have to face Gilmore when the Patriots come to town. Gilmore had two interceptions against him.

“Dang good player,” Darnold said. “I had two of my toughest games against him.”

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Seattle Seahawks expecting to be without Rashaad Penny for at least Week 2

The Seattle Seahawks fear running back Rashaad Penny will miss this weekend’s game versus the Tennessee Titans and possibly longer because of a calf injury, coach Pete Carroll stated Monday.

Penny, the Seahawks’ No. 2 running back behind Chris Carson, left Sunday’s season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts after seven snaps and two carries for 8 yards.

Carroll said after the 28-16 victory that the team played it safe by pulling Penny when the calf tightened up, knowing it had three other tailbacks available.

On Monday, Carroll called Penny’s injury a calf strain. “It’ll take us a bit to figure out what the return will be on that,” Carroll said. “He ran really well when he ran … so we’re going to miss him, it looks like, this week.”

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Carroll later mentioned the option that Penny could be out a couple of weeks.

He said the team is in “good shape” at the position with Carson, Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer.

Collins was inactive Sunday, one of six healthy scratches for the Seahawks after they entered their opener with no one listed as out, doubtful or questionable on their final injury report.

Penny’s career has been marred by injuries since Seattle chose him 27th overall in the 2018 draft. He missed 21 regular-season games over his first three seasons, including 13 last year after tearing an ACL in December 2019.

He missed the offseason program following a cleanup procedure on the knee, then got off to a strong start in training camp only to miss more time with a thigh injury.

The Seahawks declined Penny’s fifth-year option in May, making 2021 a contract season. Also Monday, Carroll said the Seahawks will know more Wednesday about the statuses of wide receivers Dee Eskridge and Penny Hart, who both left the opener with head injuries and are now in the concussion protocol.

Carroll stated he hadn’t seen the test results on backup center Ethan Pocic’s sprained knee. Pocic rotated in with starter Kyle Fuller for 14 snaps before he was hurt in the fourth quarter.

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Baltimore Ravens adding RB Le’Veon Bell to practice squad

The Baltimore Ravens signed three-time Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell to their practice squad Tuesday to help their injury-filled backfield, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bell, 29, will likely soon get elevated to the 53-man roster, the source added.

The addition of Bell comes after the Ravens lost third-string running back Justice Hill to an Achilles injury on Thursday. Baltimore already had lost starting running back J.K. Dobbins when he tore the ACL in his left knee in the preseason finale.

Bell, who worked out for Baltimore on Monday, will provide experience and pass-catching skill behind starter Gus Edwards and backup Ty’Son Williams.

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In 2019, the Ravens had a chance to sign Bell in free agency but chose to add Mark Ingram, who played in Baltimore for two seasons before getting released in January.

After gaining over 1,000 yards rushing in three of his five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell hasn’t been the same playmaker since sitting out the 2018 season. Last season, he totaled 328 yards rushing and two touchdowns with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.

Bell last played for the Kansas City Chiefs after he was let go by the New York Jets.

His role on the Chiefs was pretty much non-existent, and he had been looking for a job for some time.

The Ravens could also sign a young running back who can help on special teams as well, a source said. Bell isn’t the first former Pro Bowl player to get signed to the Ravens’ practice squad. Last year, Baltimore added wide receiver Dez Bryant to its practice team before promoting him to the 53-man roster.

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