Dec 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Will Ray Rice Be The Immediate Baltimore Ravens Starter?

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The Ravens have a lot of position battles to look out for in training camp, but none more intriguing than the one at the running back position. The reason being because no one really knows for sure who will start or who will be the third stringer.

The Ravens drafted Bernard Pierce two years ago hoping that he would be a nice complement to Ray Rice. In his rookie year, he was just that, rushing for 532 yards with an average of 4.9 yards per carry. However, Pierce’s production drastically declined last year as he carried the ball 152 time for just 436 yards, which came to an average of 2.9 yards per carry.

He wasn’t the only running back that saw extreme reductions in their numbers. Star running back Ray Rice had by far the worst season of his six-year career, carrying the ball 214 times for 660 yards (3.1 yards per carry). He had eclipsed 1,100 yards in each of the previous four years, so this was a huge a disappointment to him and the Ravens.

Some people point at the offensive line as to why Rice struggled so mightily last year. After all, their two best offensive lineman (Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele) were battling injuries all year and it’s no coincidence that both Rice and Pierce had bad years in the same season.

Regardless of whose fault it was, Rice did not have the same quickness in his step last season. The average career of a running back only lasts 4.6 years, so after five years it would make sense that he is on the decline.

Getting back to that battle, everyone just assumes that, when Rice comes back from his suspension (if he does get suspended), he will start immediately. I’m not so sure if that’s true.

The Ravens just drafted a running back by the name of Lorenzo Taliaferro in the third round of 2014 Draft and it is said that his playing style fits in very well with Gary Kubiak‘s offense. If he impresses the Ravens in training camp, preseason, and perhaps the games that Rice misses – well, you never know.

Not only that, but the Ravens did sign former Texans running back Justin Forsett who will re-unite with his former head coach. Of course this has no effect on Rice’s job as Forsett will probably just be an emergency back, but this could make things interesting all across the board. At this point, we have no idea what the lineup at running back will look like come the start of the season. Forsett could be the third running back or miss the roster, Taliaferro can really be anywhere from first to fourth, Pierce could be the backup or the third-stringer, and Rice might not start.

My view is that in the end , Rice will keep the starting job, Pierce and Talieferro will both get about an even amount of carries, and Forsett will only be on the roster if Rice is suspended. However, it’s still pretty crazy to think that after rushing for over 1,100 yards four years in a row and falling second in rushing yards twice, Rice could possibly … not likely, but possibly, lose his job.

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice

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