Originally posted on cover32 - Ravens  |  Last updated 7/15/14
One of the most interesting battles of Ravens training camp will be at the running back position. Ray Rice had his worst season as a pro in 2013, and his production was down across the board in the blocking scheme implemented by Juan Castillo.  Now that Gary Kubiak is at the helm, the differences in those offense should become apparent, and Ray Rice is hoping, spark a comeback trail that leads the Ravens rushing attack back to the top. The problem is, Ray Rice might not even get a chance to seize the starter’s job. Facing a suspension (one that has been looming for what seems like months), it doesn’t necessarily matter how much quicker or slimmer Rice appears, as he likely won’t see the field for the first quarter of the season.  And this is what makes this training camp battle so captivating — the uncertainty as to who will emerge. The incumbent starter would appear to be Bernard Pierce — however, in his career thus far, he has struggled to stay healthy and seems to have a habit of picking up nagging injuries.  Pierce was durable at Temple, but hasn’t been able to mirror that picture of health since reaching the pros.  All of his dings and scratches have come as a backup — and this is something that causes concern when considering Pierce for a future role.  There hasn’t been much that convinces me he could play 16 games and handle the bulk of the workload. Before the NFL Draft, the Ravens signed a running back that for many, probably flew under the radar.  His name and statistics won’t wow you, however this is largely attributed to the opportunity Justin Forsett’s encountered on his road to Baltimore.  His most promising time as a runner came early in his career, in Seattle, before the Seahawks traded for Beast Mode.  After Lynch started toting the ball 300+ times annually, Forsett saw the writing on the wall. His next stop wasn’t much more promising.  In Houston, Forsett linked up with Gary Kubiak for the first time of his career — a move that surely was the deciding factor for the Ravens front office.  Forsett’s familiarity with the zone offense should help him tremendously in getting an early edge.  Even though he played most of the time behind Arian Foster and Ben Tate, he still managed to rack up yards in his opportunities, and when on the field, would routinely find creases for a 5-yard gain.  Forsett’s trademark is shiftiness and speed, and when he sees a crease, he attacks it head on before looking to deke a defender out of his cleats. Despite the addition of Forsett, the Ravens (and Gary Kubiak) were expected to select a running back in May’s draft.  The options abound, with there being ample talent in rounds 2-5.  Many had linked Carlos Hyde or Tre Mason to Baltimore, however, in Gary Kubiak’s history, he hasn’t had to reach too far to find a runner that fits in his offense. Terrell Davis was a sixth round pick.  Arian Foster went undrafted.  What’s more important is their ability to handle the responsibilities of a zone runner — the vision, decisiveness, agility. In the fourth round (138th overall) the Ravens selected Lorenzo Taliaferro out of Coastal Carolina.  A big man from a small school, Taliaferro’s frame is an imposing one.  Not holding more than a few ounces of fat on his 230-pound frame, he has been commended for not just his strength, but his athleticism as well.  Taliaferro, in the time since being drafted, has displayed the ability and potential of a three-down running back.  His willingness to stay in the pocket and engage an oncoming defender will go a long way towards finding the field, and his ability as a runner and pass catcher has been evident.  Had it not been for his arrest in May, many had already expected Taliaferro to take over as starter in Rice’s stead. Realisitically, only one thing is certain for the start of the season: Ray Rice won’t be the starter. Past that, we don’t know much of anything.  The starter will be chosen after rigorous drills and practices in training camp, and the four preseason games will go a long way towards cementing players’ claim for the spot.  As fans, we can only guess who will suit up, but we can feel comfortable knowing nobody has a better idea of what it takes to succeed in zone schemes than Gary Kubiak. Whoever suits up Week 1, expect results. View poll on FanMob You may also be interested in:RB Camp: Which Baltimore Raven seizes the Week 1 starting job?Twitter Tuesday: Steve Smith’s Sci-Fi training, Bisciotti fined, top-10 W’s, moreBaltimore Ravens RB Justin Forsett’s Pro Tools on display
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