The Kenyan Drake runs to the rescue of the Ravens

Signed by Baltimore on August 31, Kenyan running back Drake started the Ravens’ season opener 10 days later.

In Baltimore’s 24-9 win over the New York Jets on Sunday, Drake played 33 offensive snaps — three times more than any other Ravens running back — rushed for 31 yards on 11 carries and caught a 15 pass. yards.

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Drake got better as the game went on, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said.

“He’s still learning the offense, in terms of angles and eyes and just formation assignments, where to line up, routes to run, protections,” Harbaugh said. “There are carryovers, but it’s not the same from team to team, so some of those things were there. Then it got better as the game went on, I thought, and he started to get a little more confident. …

“He’s a veteran. Knows how to direct the ball. Still young enough to have plenty of juice.

The Ravens were counting on the return of running backs Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins after missing the entire 2021 season. But Edwards wasn’t ready and will also miss at least the next three games, and Dobbins’ availability remains uncertain.

“I didn’t know exactly what to expect other than they were giving me the opportunity to come and help a top team in a very competitive division,” drake said Ravens official website. “I am ultimately a competitor. I just want to compete, play my game and my ball, fit into this program and help in any way I can.

Although Dobbins trained this week, he said “We will seewhen asked Friday afternoon if he would play Sunday, when the Ravens open their home schedule against the Miami Dolphins.

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Drake was available after the Las Vegas Raiders released him last month.

“It was the first time that I was kicked out of a team or really rejected in any aspect of my life,” drake said. “For the past two weeks, I’ve had to accept it with open arms. This turned out to be a reset for me. It gave me a different perspective to lean on. I’m just happy to be here.

Las Vegas had signed Drake as a free agent after rushing for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Arizona Cardinals in 2020, even though the Raiders had another former Alabama running back, Josh Jacobs, who had just completed a Pro Bowl season.

Drake rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 63 carries and caught 30 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown in 2021 before breaking his ankle in a 17-15 loss to the Washington Football Team on Dec. 5 .

Drake joined Las Vegas when Mike Mayock was the general manager and Jon Gruden was the head coach. During the offseason, the Raiders imported leadership from New England, where new general manager Dave Ziegler was the director of player personnel and new head coach Josh McDaniels was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator.

Ziegler drafted two running backs and signed two more in free agency this offseason. Joining Jacobs and Drake in the running back room for the Raiders were rookies Zamir Smith and Brittain Brown and free agent acquisitions Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden. Las Vegas picked Smith from Georgia in the fourth round and Brown from UCLA in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Abdullah is a former Homewood High School star who also serves as a kick returner, and Bolden is a nine-year veteran who played for McDaniels in New England.

RELATED: KENYAN DRAKE SAW WRITING ON THE WALL IN LAS VEGAS

A third-round draft pick in 2016, Drake played his first three seasons with Miami. The Dolphins traded him to the Cardinals midway through the 2019 season.

In 89 NFL regular season games, Drake had 3,384 yards and 29 touchdowns on 758 rushing attempts and 1,535 yards and seven touchdowns on 199 receptions. He also returned 41 kickoffs for an average of 23.5 yards and a touchdown.

“The Kenyan is doing a great job of picking things up,” Ravens offensive coordinator said Greg Roman said. “All positive, very positive. Kenyan is a very talented guy. He has a lot of speed, an ability to play in space, but also in tight spaces. He has very good vision. His brain and his feet are connected — just like that, and he can make quick decisions and good decisions.

The Dolphins and Ravens are scheduled to face off at noon CDT Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. CBS TV affiliates in Alabama are expected to broadcast the game.

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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

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