"The Competition" is a series that breaks down every position battle leading up to training camp.
Ray Rice (5-foot-8, 212 pounds, seventh season)
Rice is determined to rebound in 2014 after the worst season of his career. Rice played through a hip injury for most of last season and lacked the same quickness that he was known for earlier in his career. Rice is healthy and has shed weight, which should help him return to form. A big question with Rice is how much of the season he has to miss because of a potential suspension by the NFL regarding his offseason arrest on an assault charge.
Bernard Pierce (6-0, 218, third season)
Pierce also had a frustrating 2013 season, as the running game struggled overall. He had offseason shoulder surgery, and was held out of contact drills throughout offseason practices. His recovery is progressing ahead of schedule and the Ravens expect him to be full strength when training camp begins. Pierce may have to carry the load early in the season and it's critical that he be at full strength.
Justin Forsett (5-8, 194, seventh season)
Forsett signed with the Ravens this offseason after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Foot injuries limited him to just nine games last season, where he rushed for 31 yards on six carries. Forsett is healthy now and has not shown any lingering symptoms. The veteran running back could end up being a big part of the offense depending on the punishment for Rice.
Cierre Wood (5-11, 215, second season)
The Ravens picked up Wood in January by signing him to a reserve-future deal. Wood was an undrafted free agent last year who spent time with the Houston Texans and New England Patriots. He was primarily a practice squad player, but did crack Houston's active roster, where he had three carries for nine yards.
Lorenzo Taliaferro (6-0, 230)
The Ravens picked up Taliaferro in the fourth round of the draft and he will compete for immediate playing time. Taliaferro is a different back from any of the other rushers on the roster, as he's a big-bodied player with a bruising running style. He dominated at Coastal Carolina last year, rushing for 1,729 yards and 27 touchdowns, and the Ravens hope to get early production from him this year.
Fitzgerald Toussaint (5-10, 210)
The Ravens picked up the former Michigan running back after he impressed during a tryout at rookie minicamp in May. The undrafted back played four seasons at Michigan, rushing for 2,288 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Rice is still the leader of the group, despite last year's struggles and the off-the-field issue this offseason. He is motivated to have a strong season, and he could thrive in new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's scheme. The running game is a critical piece of Kubiak's offense, and he has a history of getting top production out of his backs. Rice's impact will likely depend on the length of a potential suspension.
The competition for the No. 2 running back spot will be interesting to watch. Pierce seems to have the edge in that race, but that depends on how he performs after returning from shoulder surgery. The Ravens used a fourth-round pick on Taliaferro and want to get him involved early. If Taliaferro impresses the coaches during training camp, he could push Pierce for carries.
Forsett is also an important part of the equation. He took reps with the first-team offense during portions of offseason practices, showing quickness and nice catching ability out of the backfield.
The Ravens typically carry three running backs on the active roster, but that could change based on a suspension and how the veteran Forsett performs in his chances to play.