Even after the Ravens drafted Bernard Pierce in the third round, some pundits still thought Baltimore would add a veteran running back.
The Ravens wouldn't hand the reins of backing up Pro Bowler Ray Rice to a rookie, would they?
Yes, they would. In fact, they handed the reins to not one, but two rookies.
Now, Pierce heads into Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals as the No. 2 running back on the depth chart.
"I feel I'm as ready as I'll ever be," Pierce said. "I've got the playbook down, I've been going over film every day. I'm ready to go."
Pierce surpassed second-year players Anthony Allen (practice squad) and Damien Berry (injured reserve). Pierce also beat out free agent running backs on the market.
"Nothing is given," he said. "I feel l earned the job. You've got to go out and get everything you want. I had to work for it."
Last year, veteran backup Ricky Williams ran 108 times for 444 yards and two touchdowns. He earned enough trust to sometimes spell Rice on full series.
Pierce doesn't know whether he'll have a similar role. He simply said the Ravens have a plan for him, and he's going to trust it.
"I'll go in when needed; that's what I know," Pierce said. "If Ray is tired, I should be able to spell him throughout a couple reps."
Pierce ran relatively well in the preseason, but had some rookie moments. He had 10 attempts for 35 yards against Jacksonville, including a 20-yard run.
But he was stopped for no gain twice and for just 1 yard three times. Pierce went backwards twice in the preseason finale in St. Louis for losses of 6 and 3 yards. He got caught trying to sometimes make something out of nothing.
Pierce is still learning.
"The NFL is a north and south game, not east and west," he said. "Everybody is a lot faster. They reminded me of that. I had to get rid of [that habit]."