Outside the competition at wide receiver, the push for the No. 2 job behind running back Justin Forsett is one of the Ravens' best battles this preseason.
In Thursday night's preseason opener, Lorenzo Taliaferro didn't win it decisively, but he did make a strong claim.
After Forsett toted the rock just twice, the Ravens leaned heavily on Taliaferro, especially on their first touchdown drive of the night.
Taliaferro ran five times for 19 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge, and caught one pass for 9 yards on the Ravens' opening drive with the starters. He got the first crack at reps with the first team, ahead of rookie fourth-round pick Buck Allen.
Taliaferro received the highest grade of all the Ravens' offensive players in the preseason opener (positive-2.2), per Pro Football Focus. More importantly, Taliaferro left Head Coach John Harbaugh impressed.
"I saw him pushing the pile a bunch of times, I noticed that," Harbaugh said. "I thought he was quick, as far as putting his foot in the ground and getting up-field, and just pushing the pile in a big way. That was good, powerful running. It was nice to see."
Taliaferro trimmed up and got quicker this offseason following a solid but unspectacular rookie campaign. The fourth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina ran 68 times for 292 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and four touchdowns last season. He caught eight passes for 114 yards.
Taliaferro is determined to prove that he's not just a straight-ahead back, that he has some wiggle and can also catch the ball well, a trait that's particularly important given how much new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman likes to throw to his backs. Taliaferro said he felt different Thursday night.
He showed that with two catches for 18 yards. Only one Ravens player in the game, tight end Nick Boyle, had more than two receptions.
"It was good," Taliaferro said. "I ran a couple flat routes, but I have to continue to build on it."
Still, Taliaferro's bread and butter is lowering his shoulder pads and bulldozing into people. That's what he did on fourth down from the 1-yard line. Taliaferro got behind his lead blocking fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, and ran full steam into the back of his offensive line before falling into the end zone.
"When you get down there, it's whatever it takes," Taliaferro said. "We should have gotten in on the first [attempt], but [Trestman] still decided to call my number, so I knew it was no holds barred on that one. You just put your pads down and you fight through there. I did a good job of pushing those guys back."
Still, Taliaferro isn't running away with the job, as it looks like the Ravens want to split the load behind Forsett. Allen entered the game on the team's second drive and also had some nice runs, including a long of 12 yards. Allen finished with 11 carries for 35 yards (a better average than Taliaferro), although he didn't catch any passes.
"I think this was a good step for the team," Taliaferro said. "I feel like we [me and Allen] went out there and did our best to help the team win."