Baltimore Ravens: Who Will be Justin Forsett’s Backup?


Sep 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (34) carries the ball against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens have many position battles, but arguably none more important than who will back up Justin Forsett. The team’s second running back is an essential part of the offense.

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The backup shares the load of the running game. The real competition is between Lorenzo Taliaferro, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Javorius “Buck” Allen. Terrence Magee is also competing, but he is a long shot who may end up making the practice squad.

The former Coastal Carolina running back had a strong minicamp, which essentially put him ahead of the other two. However at this point, it’s anyone’s.

The run game is set to have an even better year. In 2013, the team rushed for 1,328 yards for barely three yards per carry on average. They only had 68 first downs from rushes.

Last season was a completely different story when Justin Forsett led a healthy running back corps. The team went from 30th in the NFL in rushing to eighth with 2,019 yards. They increased their yards per carry average to 4.5.

The run game accounted for 113 first downs and 16 touchdowns — good for fifth in the NFL. With the offensive line returning along with Forsett, the run game is set to improve once again. The backup needs to be able to provide almost everything to the Ravens that their starter can.

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One important part the run game plays in the offense is the passing attack. Joe Flacco struggled in 2013 when the running backs failed to produce. If the run game can move to another level, the passing game can take its attack to a new level.

Similarly with any other position, depth is an important factor. If Forsett is the only one who can play at a high level, the Ravens lose an entire part of their offense when he has to come off the field.

With new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, the running backs could play an even bigger part with Flacco. In 2014, they caught nearly 600 yards out of the backfield.

Forsett and the other running backs could catch even more passes this year.

When he was the head coach in Chicago, running back Matt Forte caught more than 800 yards from Jay Cutler. I cannot see much argument saying Flacco is a better quarterback than the Bears’ passer. The running backs could reach over 1,000 yards by the end of the season.

Forsett could become a bigger part in the passing attack as well as the backup, whoever that may be. Whether it is Taliaferro, Toussaint or Allen, they not only need to stand out as a running back, but a pass catcher as well.

Participating in a limited role, Taliaferro caught eight passes for over 100 yards, while Toussaint only caught three passes. Neither back has much playing time, so the majority of their time to show they can be a well-rounded running back is going to be during training camp. Right now, the front runner is difficult to determine, but I can see the one with the best hands coming out on top.

This position battle affects many other things. When training camp arrives, Forsett’s backup battle is something to keep an eye on.