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Ravens Trying to Sort Through Running Backs

Battle brewing for roster spots.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh doesn't expect the Ravens running backs to separate themselves for a roster spot until the preseason games begin.

In the meantime, he has been impressed with their work ethic as training camp still gets revved up.

"We’re not tackling live yet, so it’s a little closer to what you’re looking for, but the physicality will certainly ramp up," Harbaugh said. "If anything, I’m pulling them back right now. I pulled the range in just a little bit. Now, that’s going to start loosening, because they’re going to start making it loosen. 

"As they get into it, they’re going to get more and more physical, which is fine. But the more physical it gets and the more real it gets, the more real it will be for the running backs.”

J.K. Dobbins is expected to return from a knee injury and retake the starting job.

However, the competition behind him is wide open.

The Ravens are not confident Gus Edwards is on the same track as Dobbins with recovering from a knee injury and he likely won't be ready for the season.

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That means rookie Tyler Badie, Corey Clement, Mike Davis, Justice Hill and Nate McCrary are competing for two or perhaps three spots on the final roster.

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Of that group, Badie has shown the most potential.  

Badie, 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, runs a lot like Ray Rice. He also is adept at catching the ball out of the back and dodging potential tacklers. The Ravens could try to stash him on the practice squad but there is a serious risk another team will pick him up.

"We thought he’d be good, and he’s been good," Harbaugh said. "[He’s] quick, smart, picks up the plays well. [He has] kind of a quiet demeanor; you give him a coaching point, and he kind of shakes his head and keeps moving and tries to get it right. When the real football comes on, I think that’s when you find out about the running backs.”

The wildcard could be Clement, who spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before signing with the Dallas Cowboys last year. He has rushed for 795 yards and seven touchdowns over his five-year career.

“I’ve always thought he’s a really physical guy, really quick-footed, downhill guy, who really didn’t know how physically impressive he was – when you see him in person – and his attitude is just off the charts," Harbaugh said. "He and I have a handshake now that he taught me, so we’ll see how it goes. Maybe we’ll show it to you later.”