State Of Ravens Running Back Corps Heading Into Free Agency


The Ravens' rushing attack had a resurgence in 2014.

After finishing last in average yards (3.1) per carry in 2013, the Ravens were tied for seventh in 2014 (4.5). Baltimore was eighth in average rushing yards (126.2) per game. The last thing the Ravens want to do is regress in that area.

With that in mind, here's the full breakdown on the running backs unit heading into the offseason:

Will Forsett return?

The Ravens struck gold with their signing of running back Justin Forsett, who ran for 1,266 yards (5th in the NFL) and went to the Pro Bowl in his first year as a starter. Now Forsett could strike gold in free agency. The pending unrestricted free agent wants to return to the Ravens, who gave him his first big chance. He said his heart is in Baltimore. Head Coach John Harbaugh also expressed his desire to retain Forsett, who was a great presence in the locker room. Forsett likely won't fetch a huge contract given that it's a tough market for running backs, especially 29-year-old ones like Forsett, but he is looking for a long-term commitment from whomever is willing to give him one.

Pierce's struggles

During his rookie season in 2012, third-round pick Bernard Pierce helped carry the Ravens down the stretch and to a Super Bowl victory. But Pierce hasn't had the same success since. In part because of injuries, and the overall drop-off in the Ravens' running attack in the 2013 season, Pierce went from 4.9 yards per carry as a rookie to 2.9 last year. He bounced back to 3.9 yards per carry in 2014, but was inactive for three games as he was passed by rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro. Pierce ran a career-low 93 times for 366 yards. His production has gone in the wrong direction the past two years. Can Pierce reclaim his rookie stride?

Taliaferro's potential

Fourth-round running back Lorenzo Taliaferro showed promise as a rookie. The big-bodied 6-foot-0, 226-pound runner averaged 4.3 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns. He performed well when he saw a lot of carries, notching 91 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland when he had a season-high 18 rushes. Taliaferro also had some rookie gaffes, however, as he committed a costly fumble in Pittsburgh. His season ended with a foot injury, so he also has to recover from that. The question is whether Taliaferro has what it takes to be a lead back.

Other questions

The Ravens have two other young running backs on the roster in Fitzgerald Toussaint, who was pulled up to the active roster late in the year, and undrafted rookie Tauren Poole, who was signed to the Ravens practice squad during the season. There has also been buzz about the Ravens being a potential landing spot for one of the draft's top two running backs: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon or Georgia's Todd Gurley.

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