Running back Bernard Pierce finished his last season on such a strong note that pundits and fans have speculated this offseason that he could push Ray Rice for carries.
Now it looks like Pierce is even better than where he left off his rookie season.
"Bernard Pierce has gotten bigger and faster," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday. "He's done a great job with his offseason conditioning program."
Pierce has added some muscle this offseason, and his potential is evident just two days into training camp.
"He looks good, and I'd say after the first two days of practice, he's a better player now than he was last year, even at the end of the season," Harbaugh said.
Pierce could be in store for a big year if he continues to develop the way he did in the second half of 2012. He finished last season with 532 yards and a touchdown on 108 carries, and added 202 yards on 39 carries in the playoffs.
He ranked fifth in the NFL with an average of 4.9 yards per carry, and he helped jump-start the offense in the playoffs with strong performances against the Colts and 49es.
While Pierce has the talent to emerge as a feature back, Rice is already one of the game's most dynamic talents. Rice racked up more than 1,600 total yards from scrimmage last year and has totaled more yards from scrimmage than any player in the NFL since 2009.
Rice is still the leader at running back, but Pierce's continued emergence gives the Ravens a dangerous combination coming out of the backfield.
"I want to be that tandem that people are scared to go up against," Pierce said earlier this offseason. "I want to be that one-two punch that everybody is talking about."