Offensive Rookies Making An Impact


The Ravens have a potential Defensive Rookie of the Year in linebacker C.J. Mosley, who did more to boost his case with his second interception and a team-high 13 tackles on Sunday.

But the Ravens rookies on the offensive side of the ball are making their impact felt as well, and played an especially big role in Cincinnati.

Rookie fourth-round running back Lorenzo Taliaferro scored the Ravens' only two touchdowns. Third-round tight end Crockett Gillmore caught two passes for 23 yards in his first start. Seventh-round wide receiver Michael Campanaro caught three passes for 40 yards, before leaving the game with an injury.

The Ravens' two rookie offensive linemen, fifth-round guard John Urschel and undrafted left tackle James Hurst, didn't start after two games at the helm, but both had to step in when Baltimore's veteran starters got banged up.

The group isn't heaping praise on itself, however.

"It says more about the veterans than it does the rookies," Gillmore said. "From Day 1, they helped incorporate us in the Raven Way. They've done a great job of keeping us locked in and keeping us hungry throughout the year.

"You get in there as a rookie and you think you might be something. But they do a good job humbling you and keeping you understanding you've got to go to work every day."

Gillmore stepped in for injured starter Owen Daniels (knee). The rookie has played in every game thus far, but entered with just three catches in seven games.

He still did a lot of blocking Sunday against Cincinnati, but also came up big with two first-down receptions. The 6-foot-6, 251-pound tight end got open in the middle of the field and showed his physicality after making the catches. Gillmore said he felt good about his performance, but warned against viewing him as a receiving tight end.

"That's going to be my mindset until I'm done playing; I'm always going to block first," Gillmore said. "If we continue to run the ball, I'm fine with that."

Campanaro was the Ravens' most productive wide receiver before he went down with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. He made a diving 19-yard catch to convert on third-and-10 in the first quarter, then came through with a 17-yard catch on another third-and-10 in the second quarter.

The local product has seen his role increase over the past three weeks, starting when he hauled in an impressive 19-yard touchdown in Tampa Bay two weeks ago. Campanaro also got the nod over of Jacoby Jones at punt returner.

Taliaferro got a vote of confidence from the coaching staff as he was activated instead of fellow running back Bernard Pierce, who was ahead of the rookie on the depth chart.

The Eastern Carolina product delivered on that faith, rushing seven times for 27 yards and the two scores. He also caught two passes for a team-high 42 yards, including a 29-yarder.

Taliaferro's 10-yard run up the middle, followed by a Justin Forsett two-point conversion, pulled Baltimore to within three points in the third quarter. He ran off the left edge again on his 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, which gave Baltimore a 21-20 lead.

"All of those are good things, but at the end of the day we didn't come out with a win, so those touchdowns didn't mean anything," Taliaferro said. "The offensive line is doing a great job, and Justin comes in week by week and performs well."

Hurst and Urschel saw 11 and eight reps, respectively, after Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda all missed some time in Sunday's game due to injuries. The offense kept moving efficiently in the running and passing* *game with the rookies in the game.

"It's not really difficult at all," Monroe said of the offense playing through injuries. "We've got guys that will step up. The fellas who came in started last week. So we've got guys that have experience on the field and can step in all over the line."

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