Detroit Lions rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs has missed the past two weeks with a hamstring injury, but coach Dan Campbell indicated on Friday that he expects Gibbs to play this week against the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, he expects Gibbs the get a pretty significant workload, too.
“He’s going to need to take the load of it,” Campbell said. “We’re just going to have to see where he’s at. I’d like to say we’re going to be careful with it, but the reality of it is we need him. So we’ll go as far as he can take us here, trying to be as smart as we can, but he’s gotta go. He’s ready.”
The Lions need as much of a workload out of him because they will be down two key backs this week. David Montgomery—who has 50.3% of the team’s total carries through six games—is out with a rib injury, and his primary backup as the physical back, Zonovan Knight, is expected to miss the entire season with a shoulder injury. It’s also not clear if the Lions will have Craig Reynolds available this week, as the veteran back was limited in practice Thursday with a hamstring and toe injury.
Gibbs, the team’s 12th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, has received the majority of the workload just once in his rookie season. In Week 3 against the Falcons, Gibbs carried the ball 17 times for 80 yards.
And while Gibbs is a more explosive, open-field runner, Campbell said they don’t plan on altering their running game much with him as the feature back, expressing faith in the rookie as a between-the-tackles rusher.
“There’s a few things we think he does well, but ultimately we’re going to keep what we do well, and what our o-line does well, our tight ends,” Campbell said. “Because we believe—we don’t think he’s just some, ‘Hey, you just got to get him on the perimeter. He’s not an inside runner.’ We don’t believe that. So, we’re keeping the identity of what we do and the core of what we do in the run game. So that won’t really change.”
Gibbs and the Lions run game will face a steep challenge this week, as the Ravens boast the ninth-best run defense by yardage and seventh by DVOA.