The Ravens are still sorting out their running game, and Sunday's game in Cleveland may give the best opportunity yet to do so.
Baltimore essentially split the carries in last Sunday's 13-7 win over the Buffalo Bills between Justin Forsett and Terrance West. Forsett (41 rushing yards) got the start, but West (32 rushing yards) finished with two more carries.
Neither had much of an opportunity to break out, as Baltimore rushed just 15 times in the first three quarters. The Ravens finished averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, which isn't good enough going forward.
"We just have to get better," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "There's no magic formula. You just have to become really good at it and run against the right fronts at the right time and execute."
Last year, Baltimore finished 26th in average rushing yards per game (92.4) and tied for 20th in average yards per carry (3.9). A big emphasis this offseason has been on turning that around, and Baltimore believes it has the talent to do so.
"As far as the running game goes, I believe we will find out more about ourselves over the next two to three weeks," Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman said Thursday. "I don't know that you can do that in one game against a Rex Ryan defense the way they are totally focused on stopping the run against everything else."
The Browns gave up 133 rushing yards to the Eagles in Week 1 and have a young defensive line with second-year nose tackle Danny Shelton, rookie defensive end Carl Nassib and third-year former Ravens practice squad defensive end Jamie Meder.
Baltimore has historically turned to the ground game to beat the Browns, who have been one of the NFL's weakest rush defenses over the past few years. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens have averaged nearly 150 rushing yards per game against Cleveland.
"This week, I think if we want to be successful and win this game, we've got to have a great ground game," Forsett said. "I'm ready for it and excited for the opportunity, and I know the guys up front are."
Trestman said he sees himself still rotating his running backs fairly evenly. Buck Allen could also be worked into the mix after being scratched from last week's regular-season opener. Harbaugh said it was a game-by-game decision on whether Allen would suit up.
But Trestman said he could see himself riding one running back more than another if one emerges. He first needs to see more of the backs.
"It's just up in the air right now," Forsett said. "My job is to go out there and control what I can control, and when I get my carries try to shine and do the best with it."
After being released then re-signed during the cuts to the 53-man roster, Forsett led the Ravens with a 4.1 yards per carry average in Week 1.
West will have extra motivation this week as he's going back to Cleveland to play against the team that drafted him in the third round in 2014 only to trade him away to Tennessee one year later. He said he expects to hear boos from Browns fans Sunday.
"It would feel good to get a win over Cleveland, but I'm not going to get all jacked up," West said. "I'm going to treat it like any other game."