The New York Giants beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-20 in a disappointing loss for Baltimore. The result condemned them to 3-3 on the season. Despite the disappointing loss, one silver lining from the game was the performance of Kenyan Drake. Drake was a forgotten man after J.K. Dobbins’ return as the feature back. However, against the Giants, the sixth-year veteran proved his worth.
Kenyan Drake Shows Improvement Despite Baltimore Ravens Week 6 Loss
On the game, Kenyan Drake managed an impressive 119 yards from 10 carries (11.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown. His touchdown came in the second quarter, as he exploded up the middle for a 30-yard score.
The team deployed Drake as their primary back in the second half of the game after Dobbins experienced some soreness in his knee. However, Drake had been running efficiently even prior to Dobbins’ exit.
The 28-year-old’s production matched up to the eye test too. Drake looked stronger and faster than before, and he seemed to have a greater understanding of the offensive scheme and his role within it. The explosive touchdown run was merely a culmination of this, as he demonstrated good patience and speed to wait for the gap to open and attack it with venom.
Drake is showing improvement. How does he and the team build on this?
Kenyan Drake. 30 yards. Untouched. @KDx32
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Consistency is Key for Drake
The former Las Vegas Raider was highly coveted during the end of the off-season. He ultimately signed with the Ravens just under two weeks before their season opener against the New York Jets. Against the Jets, Drake was inefficient with the ball, managing just 31 yards from 11 carries. Week 2 was even more of a nightmare as he recorded just eight yards on six carries.
The return of Dobbins dropped Drake to the bench. He returned to the starting rotation after Justice Hill’s injury. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, Drake was used as a change-of-pace back, like how Hill was used, and managed 26 yards from four carries. While this does not jump off the page, Drake’s efficiency in Week 5 was perhaps a foreshadowing of the damage he would be able to do against the Giants.
That does not do Drake’s Week 6 performance justice, though. Touch efficiency is one thing, touch efficiency with volume is another. It was the latter that Drake demonstrated against the Giants. He remained effective even when thrust in as the feature back.
The key for Drake now is to show consistency. His ceiling has been flashed a lot. With the Miami Dolphins, Drake was highly effective in some games and lackluster in others. Many believed his trade to the Arizona Cardinals was his break, but it ended disappointingly. His first year in Arizona was elite, but he followed it up with an inefficient season that saw him hit free agency. The less said about his time with the Raiders the better, as he was mostly second fiddle to Josh Jacobs.
Drake is showing improvement. It was common knowledge that Drake has the talent to be successful. He just needs to sustain his good performances to carve out a stable role with the Ravens.
The Ravens Running Back Situation
At the start of the year, the Ravens struggled running the ball outside of Lamar Jackson. As of now, it seems that the team have improved vastly, but are left with an unpredictable running back room. Dobbins has shown flashes, and is projected to be the team’s RB1, but is clearly still recovering from his lengthy absence. They will hope that his knee soreness is nothing alarming.
Behind Dobbins, the Ravens have a few different backs who serve slightly different purposes. Hill was running efficiently as the scat back, but his injury coupled with Drake’s strong performance could knock him down the pecking order. It is Hill that Drake must compete with, as both offer similar skillsets as silkier tailbacks.
Mike Davis is the odd man out currently. His role seems variable and undefined so far. He sees the fewest touches but has been solid when given a chance.
The other name to watch for is Gus Edwards. Edwards recently returned to training and his timeline to return to the matchday squad is still up in the air. But, when he returns, he is expected to be the primary short-yardage back.
When healthy, the Ravens seem to have a solid setup. The role in question is the change-of-pace back, a role that will be competed for by Drake, Hill and Davis. Drake is showing improvement but it remains to be seen how that stacks up against the other running backs competing for touches.
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