Buck Allen started six games as a rookie in 2015 when injuries struck the Ravens' running back corps.
A year later, he hardly saw the field.
Now in his third season, the Ravens running back has seen the swings an NFL career can take. But finally, after an offseason of rededication and hard work, Allen is back on the ascent.
Allen reemerged as a key offensive playmaker in Sunday's 24-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, running 14 times for 66 yards, including a key 37-yard run to set up a last-second touchdown at the end of the first half. He also caught five passes for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Simply put, he was the Ravens' leading tailback following Danny Woodhead's Week 1 hamstring injury.
"I'll tell you, and 'Buck' will laugh about this, but this is exactly what I expected from him when we drafted him," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"He and I have had these conversations a lot, and to see that come to fulfillment from his hard work is great. Now, he has to keep it going, but he's making plays for us. To come up with that run at the end of the half, that's a big-league play."
Allen's 37-yard weaving run was maybe the Ravens' most impressive offensive play of the game. There was 15 seconds left and the Ravens were at the Browns' 39-yard line, likely looking to simply get into field-goal range.
Lined up next to quarterback Joe Flacco in the shotgun, Allen followed behind a block from pulling right guard Marshal Yanda and exploded to the left. He then cut back right so quickly that rookie Browns safety Jabrill Peppers whizzed by him without even a tackle attempt.
As Allen tried to stretch his run to the end zone, he was eventually caught from behind by defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun. The Ravens finished it off with a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on the next play.
"It was great, even though I should've gotten in the end zone," Allen said. "I'm not a selfish person at all, so live to see tomorrow."
Allen had to show a lot of patience and selflessness last season.
The fourth-round pick out of USC went from 137 carries for 514 yards as a rookie to just nine carries for 34 yards as a sophomore. His longest run last year was 7 yards – hardly enough to even stretch out the legs. He had three catches for 15 yards and didn't once touch the end zone.
While sitting out last year was tough, Allen said Sunday, "I've been through worse." Allen grew up extremely poor in Florida before being taken in by an adoptive family.
"Me personally, I know what I'm capable of doing," Allen said. "I never got down on myself. I believed in my preparation, I believed in my work ethic, and I never got down on myself. I never questioned, 'Why am I going through this?'"
Although Allen didn't find the end zone on his long run, he did so earlier in the game when he settled into an opening in the Browns defense and Flacco found him as he rolled to his right for a 9-yard score.
For his celebration, Allen went with a nod to "Primetime" Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders. Yeah, he enjoyed this one.
"I've been watching some Deion videos," Allen said. "I'm a big Deion fan. He is a great, great, great athlete. Usually, I would do my dance that I did last year, but I figured I'd get in there and why not?"
Allen said his resurgence is the byproduct of a mentally and physically grueling offseason of work.
He also gave credit to his coaches, from Harbaugh and Running Backs Coach Thomas Hammock pushing him and believing in him, to the schemes from Senior Offensive Assistant Greg Roman and play-calling by Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
They all clearly have faith in Allen, who may be taking the lead in the running back rotation. Allen had 21 carries (71 yards) in the season-opener compared to 19 carries for Terrance West. In Week 2, Allen got 14 carries while West had eight and Alex Collins had seven.
"I'm always going to work hard until I have nothing left in the tank," Allen said. "Just getting the opportunity and believing in your preparation allows you to showcase things on the field."