When Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked earlier this week about who his starting running back is, he quickly responded, "Bernard Pierce."
He then smiled and added, "Justin Forsett. They'll both play a lot."
Harbaugh wasn't interested in tipping his hand about his starting running back going into Thursday's division matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, Harbaugh did stress Tuesday that he still has plenty of confidence in Pierce after the third-year running back fumbled in the opener and then spent the rest of the game sidelined.
"You don't lose faith in a player because of a bad play," Harbaugh said. "Bernard is still on his way to becoming, I would say, a very good player, and I've been saying that all along. I have the utmost confidence in him."
Pierce entered last week's game as the starter, but he fumbled in the second quarter and then the Ravens turned to veteran Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro for the rest of the game. Pierce finished the game with six carries for 14 yards. Forsett made the most of his chance and had 11 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown.
"There was no talk about sitting Bernard down during the game – it's just [that] Justin was rolling," Harbaugh said. "He was making good decisions; he was picking up pass protection. We had confidence in him at that time more so than the other running backs."
Harbaugh explained that moving forward the Ravens will ride the hot hand in the backfield. Ray Rice had been the bell-cow for the last five years in Baltimore, but now the Ravens have some unproven players in the backfield and they could opt for more of a run-by-committee approach this year.
"You go with guys that are making plays at those positions," Harbaugh said. "Wide receivers – you go with the guys who are playing the best at the time. But probably more so at running back than any position, when you have a number of guys kind of in the same spot."
Pierce is still officially listed on the depth chart as the Ravens' top running back, but that doesn't mean he'll get the starting nod when the Ravens take the field Thursday. Pierce told reporters after Sunday's game that he has "no idea" whether he would start, but that he "of course" is ready to take on a big workload.
Regardless of who ends up getting the first offensive snap, Pierce, Forsett and Taliaferro will all likely get their reps, and have their chances to earn more time.
"[Bernard is] going to fight and battle," Harbaugh said. "He's not going to be perfect – none of us are – but Bernard Pierce is a big part of what we're doing, just as is Justin [and] Lorenzo as well."