Why's J.K. Dobbins absent from training camp and when will the Baltimore Ravens' running back report?
Well, it's complicated.
Asked Wednesday when he expected Dobbins to report to training camp, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh deferred to his back and said it was a bit of a cumbersome matter.
"That's a J.K. question," Harbaugh told reporters. "I wish it was a simple answer. There's always a lot of things that go into football, but there's some complexity to it and we're working through all that. J.K.'s working through it, and I'm looking forward to when he's out there."
Baltimore placed Dobbins on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Friday and, per the team website, he is continuing to "get back to 100% physically with his surgically repaired knee."
However, Dobbins' murky situation seems to be clear enough that it's not just about healing up from a past surgery that's keeping him away from practice.
Dobbins, 24, is due to make $1.39 million in base salary in 2023 -- the last of his rookie contract. However, a problem posed to the Ravens is that Dobbins has missed more games than he's played so far in his career.
Nonetheless, Harbaugh expressed confidence that Dobbins will be ready to go whenever he reports.
"You know, it's really hard to make a measurement like that," the veteran coach said. "I don't know that there's a measurement. I know he'll get ready. He's in all the meetings mentally and doing those kind of things. I also believe this about J.K., he'll be happy when he's out there. He wants to be out there, and we both want the same thing."
Harbaugh expected Dobbins to be at the Ravens' mandatory minicamp, but Dobbins was a no-show in June, as well.
Shortly after the conclusion of June's minicamp, Dobbins appeared to indicate in an interview on WJZ-CBS Baltimore that his minicamp absence was a business decision more so than due to any injury -- though he neither confirmed nor denied any ailment at the time.
"The thing I can say is, I would love to be a Baltimore Raven for the rest of my career," Dobbins said after he was asked in June where he stood with the team. "Because I love the city, I love the people. It feels like family here. Like, it feels like home here, my second home. And I hope that happens. I hope that happens."
Dobbins added then that quarterback Lamar Jackson's drawn-out contract situation was evidence that the business of football was an arduous one.
"The business side is very hard," Dobbins said. "It's very different. But it's part of it. It's part of the dream and it's something that I'm blessed with, to deal with the business side of that. You saw with Lamar, it's never just roses and daisies. It can be hard at times. It's business, though."
Jackson said Wednesday he had not spoken with Dobbins regarding his situation, but was nonetheless excited for him to return to the fold.
"I haven't talked to him about the situation, but I'm very excited, you know. J.K. is J.K," he said, "I know he's gonna work his tail off, and can't wait 'til he's out here."
Drafted by the Ravens in 2020, Dobbins' career got off to a promising start before it hit a massive speed bump in the form of an ACL tear in the summer of 2021.
Dobbins has played in just 23 games over three years with Baltimore, owning career totals of 1,325 rushing yards (5.9 per carry) and 11 rushing touchdowns, most of those statistics coming in an 805-yard rookie showing. He missed all of the 2021 season and nine games in 2022.
Disgruntled running backs in 2023 are hardly novel, but Dobbins isn't new to expressing his displeasure, either.
Dobbins conveyed his dismay that he was injured playing in a preseason game in 2021. Following a Week 6 loss to the Giants in 2022, Dobbins pointed out he had never had more than 15 carries in a game. After his team's season-ending 24-17 Super Wild Card Weekend loss against the Bengals, Dobbins spoke up his disdain with not getting the ball when quarterback Tyler Huntley fumbled on a QB sneak that was returned for a game-winning touchdown by Cincinnati's Sam Hubbard .
Nevertheless, Dobbins' standing with the Ravens remains a mystery as of now, right along with when he'll report for camp.