"The Competition" is a series that breaks down every position battle leading up to training camp. The series begins today with a look at the running backs.
- Justin Forsett (5-foot-8, 197 pounds; 8th season)
- Lorenzo Taliaferro (6-0, 226; 2nd season)
- Fitzgerald Toussaint (5-10, 205; 2nd season)
- Javorius "Buck" Allen (6 -0, 220; 4th-round pick)
- Terrence Magee (5-8, 213; undrafted)
Coming off a Pro Bowl year in which he led all NFL running backs in average yards per carry (5.4), Forsett is firmly set as the starter. It's a new feeling for the longtime backup journeyman, but Forsett says he's even hungrier this year. The question is how his body will hold up after a career-high 235 carries last season.
Forsett works extremely well in the Ravens' stretch zone run system and he's had a full year with the Ravens' returning offensive line. Forsett may be asked to catch more passes (he had 44 last year) under new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman. Bears running back Matt Forte led all NFL running backs with 102 catches under Trestman's guidance last season.
Key Role Players
The Ravens parted ways with backup Bernard Pierce after off-the-field troubles this offseason. That has left the door open for a No. 2 running back.
Taliaferro spent time as the lead running back, No. 2 and No. 3 option at times last year. The big, powerful runner averaged 4.3 yards per carry with 292 total rushing yards and four touchdowns before a foot injury ended his season. He has slimmed down and added muscle, hoping to be seen as more than just a power runner.
Allen may be the best pass catcher of the group. The slippery rookie out of USC has quickness and good vision as well. If he shows he can hold up in pass protection, he could carve out a role on third downs and perhaps more.
Most Anticipated Battle
The battle between Taliaferro and Allen for the backup spot is definitely one worth keeping an eye on. It's a big role in the offense considering the Ravens like to share carries to keep their running backs fresh.
Taliaferro may have the edge as the returning player with NFL game experience, especially after arriving for Organized Team Activities (OTAs) in phenomenal shape. But Allen could beat out the sophomore. He spent some time with the first-team offense in OTAs, a strong indication the Ravens like his potential.
The Ravens will have a tight competition for playing time behind starting Justin Forsett in the backfield.