Running back Buck Allen admits that even he would have had a tough time predicting the kind of rookie season he had in Baltimore.
The fourth-round pick went from third on the depth at the beginning of the season to the starter by year’s end, and he showed enough promise that he could go into next season as the team’s top ball carrier.
“If you would have said I would have been the stating running back in Week 15, I probably would have laughed,” Allen said. “Anything is possible.”
The rookie took advantage of the playing time when it came his way – he played in all 16 games and started six – and he finished the year with 137 carries for 514 yards and a touchdown, and 45 catches for 353 yards and two scores.
“You never know when your opportunity is going to come,” Allen said. “You just have to take advantage of your opportunities. Of course you have to get in the playbook and all that, but my biggest thing is take advantage of your opportunity. Make the best of when that opportunity comes.”
Allen’s versatility as a runner and pass catcher made him a driver of the offense late in the season. With the Ravens using three quarterbacks in the final five games, Allen was a reliable safety net with short passes over the middle of the field.
“Every snap I was out there was a blessing, it was a great opportunity,” Allen said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The biggest hiccup in Allen’s season came in a Week 15 loss to the Chiefs where his fumble turned into a 73-yard touchdown for Kansas City. Allen spent the rest of that game on the sidelines, and Head Coach John Harbaugh challenged him after the game by saying, “You play the best players, and at running back, the best players don’t fumble.”
Harbaugh expressed confidence at the time that Allen would bounce back, and that’s exactly what he did. Allen collected more than 110 all-purpose yards and a touchdown the next week in an upset victory over the Steelers, which was one of his best games of the season.
As the Ravens go into the offseason, they have big expectations for what Allen could do in his second season. He’ll compete for playing time with Forsett and Taliaferro when they get healthy, and Allen will be out to build upon his solid rookie campaign.
“When that time comes, we’ll take care of it,” Allen said. “I love competition. I push the guys and I always want to see them do great. I never talk anybody down. If a person is good and he’s got it, I salute him and support him the best.”