Running Backs Have One Final Chance To Earn Roster Spot


With one preseason game remaining, the Ravens have three running backs battling for what will most likely be one spot on the roster.

Anthony Allen, Damien Berry and Bobby Rainey are competing for the third running back slot, with Ray Rice and third-round pick Bernard Pierce already looking like locks for the roster.

They have one more chance to convince the coaching staff that they deserve a job.

"It's just going out there and playing a perfect game," Allen said. "It's going out there, having no mistakes, playing my hardest and beating the guy behind me or beating the guy in front of me."

The three backs should get plenty of opportunities, as the starters are expected to play sparingly, if at all.

"We're going to try to get as many reps as we can for the guys that we're trying to determine their future," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Heading into Thursday's game against St. Louis, Rainey appears to have an edge over Berry and Allen. Rainey took reps with the first-team offense in last week's win over Jacksonville and he has been one of the surprises of the preseason.

Rainey has 17 carries for 46 yards and 10 receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns. The undrafted rookie out of Western Kentucky has not been fazed thus far by the transition to the NFL, and he's not putting any extra pressure on standing out in the preseason finale.

"I don't get caught up in the pressure thing because then I'm not focused on the things that I need to focus on and I'm uptight," Rainey said. "At the end of the day, you just have to play football and not worry about it. Playing football and relaxing is what got me here, so that's what I'm going to continue to do."

Berry, an undrafted back out of Miami who spent last year on the practice squad, has come on strong in recent weeks. He has 10 carries for 53 yards and six catches for 59 yards in the last two games.

Running Backs Coach Wilbert Montgomery said that in Berry's one season with the Ravens, he has "improved more than any back that I have ever coached." Berry sees the improvement as well, and is confident that he has put forth a good showing during training camp.

"I have really shown them a lot in this preseason, opposed to last year," Berry said. "I feel that I improved on a lot of things, as far as route running, catching the ball out of the backfield. I feel really good.

"Nothing I've done goes  unnoticed, so every opportunity I have to touch the ball, I'm going to make sure that people see I'm explosive, that I'm physical and that I'm trying to make this team."

Allen has had a more disappointing preseason, as he has six carries for 7 yards and one reception for 12 yards. Last week against Jacksonville, Allen was the only back on the roster not to get a carry. 

Still, last year's seventh-round pick has not given up.

"I still have to prove everybody wrong," Allen said. "I still have to go out and give full effort so that's what I'm doing.

And while the focus for all three backs is to earn a spot with the Ravens, a good showing in the preseason finale could also potentially open doors with other teams around the league.

"There are still 31 teams out there," Berry said. "I love Baltimore, but if God leads me somewhere else, then that's where I'll be. But right now my mentality is that I'm going to do whatever it takes to stay in Baltimore."

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