Interesting Battle Wages Behind Forsett
It's going to be a battle to watch this summer.
It's Lorenzo Taliaferro vs. Buck Allen.
The two will fight for snaps behind starter Justin Forsett since the primary backup of the last three years, Bernard Pierce, was released from the team. At 29 years old, and after exploding onto the scene with a career-best season (1,266 yards), Forsett wants to prove he can put up another 1,000-yard season.
"However, the Ravens wouldn't mind seeing Forsett have fewer carries than in 2014, when he ran the ball 235 times," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown. "That's where Allen and Taliaferro come in. They should wage an interesting battle to be the No. 2 back."
"Forsett looked like he wore down at times in the regular season and then played 79 percent of the offensive snaps in the playoffs," added ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "That's why it is important for Taliaferro and Allen to step up."
Both Taliaferro (2014) and Allen (2015) were fourth-round picks, both are very young, but they have very different styles.
Taliaferro is a big-bodied back at 6-foot-0 and 226 pounds, and is suited for bruising short-yardage and red-zone rushing. He picked up 292 yards on 68 carries last season before sustaining a season-ending foot injury in Week 14.
Allen showed good hands during his college career at USC and could be a receiving threat out of the Ravens' backfield. He also shows more elusiveness. (Check out his highlights from rookie camp, where he shows off those hands.)
"What Allen lacks as far [as] generating power Taliaferro more than makes up for," wrote Russell Street Report's Cary Stevenson. "He's a no-nonsense downhill runner with terrific feet for his size who finishes through contact — traits very much on display last season."
There are three-and-half months for one of the backs to separate himself as the clear No. 2, but don't be surprised if you see both during the 2015 season.
"This could end up [being] a situation where the Ravens ask Taliaferro and Allen to share the role," wrote Hensley.
That's for the short-term.
The two could also be auditioning for the future starting role depending on how things shake out with Forsett this season.
"The Ravens re-signed Forsett this offseason to a team-friendly contract that could end up being a one-year, $3 million deal if he fails to repeat last season's success or a young running back out-produces him," Hensley added.
Campanaro Eyeing Bigger Role
It's Year 2 for wide receiver Michael Campanaro.
He has more experience, more knowledge, better health and a bigger opportunity.
And he hopes to seize it.
"I'm extremely excited," Campanaro told The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. "Rookie years are difficult for anyone getting on a new team and figuring out the playbook and adjusting to the NFL game. Year 2, I just feel more comfortable.
"We basically kept our same offense. With another year in the system after going through installs and running plays, you feel way more comfortable. It's like second nature. That should allow me to play faster because you know what you're doing."
His improved comfort level comes at a good time now that veterans Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are no longer on the team. That opens up the primary returner role and the No. 3 receiver spot – and maybe even the No. 2 receiver role depending on how long it takes rookie first-rounder Breshad Perriman to develop.
Last season, a lingering hamstring injury limited Campanaro to just four games. He flashed in the time that he did have, notching seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. He returned from the injury for the AFC divisional playoff game against the Patriots, adding another four receptions for 39 yards.
"It's going to be wide open as far as opportunities for guys to step up and fill those roles," Campanaro said. "There's a lot of opportunity in the receiving room and a lot of targets to go around. Guys are working hard on their games and trying to win a spot."
Last year, Campanaro didn't get a ton of work in the return game, but during practice he tried to soak up as much knowledge as possible from Jones, who was an electrifying Pro Bowl returner. Jones was released from the team earlier this offseason and is now with the San Diego Chargers.
"I definitely think I can help the team out in the return game, definitely on punt returns," Campanaro said. "The coaching staff trusts me back there from a year of catching punts and I got some game experience. Anytime you can earn the coaches' trust, that's huge."
Dumervil Shoots For Major Career Milestone
Terrell Suggs reached it last year. Elvis Dumervil is shooting for it this season.
It's the 100-sack club. And it's *very *exclusive.
Dumervil enters 2015 with 90 sacks on his resume, and if he can keep up his career average, he should be able to hit triple digits by season's end. He has averaged 11.2 sacks during his eight-year career, with his best season (tied) coming last year playing opposite of Suggs and notching a franchise-high 17 sacks.
"Watching the 31-year-old Dumervil play as well as he did last season gives the Ravens hope that he'll continue to be one of the NFL's elite pass rushers for a few more years," wrote Brown. "[P]laying opposite Terrell Suggs makes it more difficult for opponents to double-team Dumervil."
Below are the league's career sack leaders among active players, per Brown:
- Jared Allen, Bears, 134 sacks
- John Abraham, free agent, 133 ½
- DeMarcus Ware, Broncos, 127
- Julius Peppers, Packers, 125 1/2
- Dwight Freeney, free agent, 111 ½
- Robert Mathis, Colts, 111
- Terrell Suggs, Ravens, 106 ½
- Mario Williams, Bills, 91
- Elvis Dumervil, Ravens,* *90
Ellerbe Sounds Happy To Leave Miami, Get Back To Winning Mentality
It's rare to hear about a former Raven liking his new situation better than what he had in Baltimore.
And that seems to be the case with ex-Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. After a disappointing run with the Dolphins, Ellerbe sounds happy to get out of Miami. He was traded to the New Orleans Saints two short years after signing a reported five-year, $35 million contract.
"It's guys that want to win. I can honestly say it's a place that knows how to win," Ellerbe said of the Saints in his hometown Richmond County (N.C.) Daily Journal. "I'm glad I'm getting back to a place with a great fan base and sold out games. I'm looking forward to it. It's always awesome when you have a great backing, when you have sold-out games and the fans got your back and are 100 percent behind you."
Those comments quickly made it back to Miami, and the Sun-Sentinel characterized it as "slamming everything Dolphins." Ellerbe later apologized to Dolphins fans and said he was simply trying to express his excitement.
Ellerbe was one of the Ravens' undrafted rookie free-agent gems they uncovered in 2009. The world watched as he made a name for himself on the 2012 Super Bowl team, intercepting Tom Brady in the AFC championship game. He cashed in shortly thereafter.
But he didn't live up to expectations in Miami. He had a decent season in 2013, but was on injured reserve last year.
"The Ravens are still strong at inside linebacker featuring C. J. Mosley, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and solid veteran Daryl Smith," wrote Brown. "Right now, Ellerbe looks like a player the Ravens let go at the right time."
- Jeff Zrebiec names five veterans not named Joe Flacco that should be interesting to watch over the next couple of weeks, and why:* *
Eugene Monroe: Can he stay healthy and play with more consistency?
Courtney Upshaw: He enters a contract year and needs to show pass-rush ability.
Matt Elam: It's a make-or-break year for the 2013 first-round draft pick.
Marlon Brown: With more opportunity, can he regain his rookie year production?
Arthur Brown: With C.J. Mosley recovering from wrist surgery, he'll have the chance to show he's made progress. [The Baltimore Sun]