There were many observations to be made from the Baltimore Ravens first preseason game and many fun things to overreact to as a eccentric fan. One fairly level-headed observation that I made after the game is that Ravens are set at running back for a very long time.
Justin Forsett burst onto the scene (literally) and rushed for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns, while having the most 20-yard plus runs and easily the best season of his career. Forsett was signed last season on the veteran minimum contract of one-year, $750 thousand. His hard work was rewarded and the Ravens signed him for three years at $9 million. What a difference a year makes. I believe that barring any unfortunate injury that Forsett will play out his three-year contract as the Ravens starting running back and will continue to be a strong contributor in the Ravens offense. Forsett turns 30 years old in October, but because he did not have a lucrative amount of carries as a journeyman, I think he can keep his legs fresh until the end of his contract.
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Behind Forsett there are two other very talented and promising running backs in Lorenzo Taliaferro and Javorius “Buck” Allen. Taliaferro lost a significant amount of weight this season and is down to 4% body fat because he wanted to have better acceleration on the field. Thus far, he has looked really solid and impressed me in the first preseason bout.
The biggest thing to watch when a running back sheds weight is to see if the power he once had is still there, and there was no sign that he lost his in-between-the-tackles power at all. He specifically showed his power on a 4th-and-1 touchdown plunge up the middle in which he scored with ease on. I expect that to be a common sight this season. I still believe that Forsett will be a factor inside the ten yard-line, but I think to keep Forsett healthy and fresh we will see Taliaferro in on goal-line situations. Also, it is just a very strategic move to put Taliaferro in on goal-line situations because of his power in between the tackles.
“Buck” Allen was a very nice addition to an already talented backfield. The Ravens selected him in the fourth round with the 125th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Many people just stuck him as the third man on the depth chart, but early on in camp he was challenging Taliaferro as the second man on the depth chart, and I believe it will be a battle until the Week One matchup against the Denver Broncos. Allen’s college tape was very impressive overall. He is listed at 6 feet and 221 pounds, but he is very quick and agile for his weight. His film shows a very unique combination of elusiveness and explosive capabilities. His ability to catch balls out of the backfield will allow him to see early playing time in his rookie season because of Marc Trestman’s offense, which loves to feature a running back who can catch balls out of the backfield.
Overall, it appears the Ravens are in good hands at the running back position for a long period of time. They have the right balance of young talent and veteran presence to be a very successful backfield this season and for many more after that. They will use a very solid rotation this season to keep everyone fresh and healthy, which will maximize effectiveness and efficiency. Along with a top-three offensive line, the Ravens will look to be a top-7 rushing unit again this season and perhaps even better than that.
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