As Bernard Pierce packed up his locker to begin the offseason, his mind was already thinking ahead to next year.
The Ravens were less than a week removed from winning Super Bowl XLVII to cap Pierce's rookie season, but the running back has already turned the page.
"I'm not the type to stay stuck in the past," Pierce said. "It's over with. We won. And now I'm thinking about next season. I'm thinking about how great we have to be next season to get to where we left off this year."
Pierce will look to build on an impressive rookie campaign, where he came on strong down the stretch and averaged 5.2 yards per carry in the playoffs.
As the No. 2 back behind Ray Rice, Pierce showed that he has the talent to be a featured back, and next year the Ravens will have to continue finding ways to get the ball in both of their hands.
"It's going to be hard next year with how you play those guys," Running Backs Coach Wilbert Montgomery said in an interview at the Super Bowl.
Pierce's hard-nosed running style was a perfect complement to the shifty Rice, giving the Ravens a true one-two punch out of the backfield.
"We are building a bully and he exemplifies that with his play and his attitude," Montgomery said. "He's a quiet guy, but he's still a fun guy, and I think his teammates really love him. They know when he's on the field that he's going to make something happen."
Pierce finished the season with 532 rushing yards and one touchdown on 108 carries. He added 39 carries for 202 yards in the playoffs.
Rice had 1,143 rushing yards on 257 carries in the regular season, and added 306 rushing yards on 84 carries in the playoffs. Rice is also more of a threat in the passing game and he racked up 478 receiving yards on 61 catches. Piece had just eight total catches on the year.
"I think that my role where I'm at right now is perfect," **Rice said during an interview** with the NFL Network." I'm effective in the pass game and I can do some damage in the run game as well. Right now I think this is just right for me. I'll get my touches. I just have to make sure I can last for a whole season.
"I have a great backup in Bernard Pierce. He's an up-and-coming guy in this league as well."
Pierce downplayed his emergence as a future star in the NFL, and emphasized that he has plenty of room to grow in his first professional offseason.
"Nobody is perfect and there's always room for improvement, and that's really how I've always based my game," he said. "No matter how much we get praised, or how much somebody thinks you're this great player, there is always room to make yourself better. That's what's going to keep me motivated."