He has been a hard-nosed running back used to spell Rice and provide a change-of-pace for the offense.
Heading into his second season, Pierce has bigger goals for the running back duo.
“I want to be that tandem that people are scared to go up against,” Pierce said. “I want to be that one-two punch that everybody is talking about.”
When asked if he thought the Ravens could have the best backfield in the NFL, Pierce simply said, “Hopefully.”
Pierce is coming off a rookie campaign where he rushed for 532 yards and a touchdown. He added another 202 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry in the postseason.
The third-round pick out of Temple came on strong in the second half of the year, and showed that he has the talent to be a featured back. That talent was evident in the Super Bowl, when the Ravens used Pierce to help jump-start the running game when the offense went cold in the second half.
“Towards the end of the [add] year, I actually got a better rhythm going, so it was a lot easier for me to just play football,” Pierce said. “I always had the confidence, I just needed the time to show improvement.”
While Pierce has loads of potential, he’s still the No. 2 back behind Rice, a three-time Pro Bowler who racked up more than 1,600 yards from scrimmage last year. Rice has been a driver of the offense for the last four seasons, and he’s totaled more yards from scrimmage than any other player in the league since becoming a starter in 2009.
But Pierce has proven that he’s dangerous when he gets his hands on the football, and he’s hoping to show over the next several weeks that he and Rice can be an even better combo this year.
“The first step is to show the coaches that we can do it in the offseason, and in camp,” Pierce said. “Step No. 2 is just to go out and do it. You got to prove yourself to everybody.”
Pierce is working to improve his footwork and vision during offseason practices. He’s also wants to become more of a threat in the passing game after having just seven receptions last year.
If he can make strides in those areas, and continue to develop as a straight-ahead runner, the Ravens could have exactly the one-two punch out of the backfield that Pierce has in mind.
“I just want to improve in everything,” Pierce said. “I just want to be an all-around better back than I was last year, whether it’s receiving, rushing, touchdowns, blocking, everything. It’s a lot of steps to accomplish the bigger goal – and that’s to be great.”