The addition of Justin Forsett wasn’t just a “camp move” for the Ravens.
Unlike many signings that take place during the off-season, where teams add depth just to have warm bodies at camp, Forsett’s signing will mean something once the Ravens take the field on September 7th against the Bengals.
With Ray Rice’s two game suspension – discipline the team anticipated – there is a window of opportunity for Forsett to showcase his abilities in the coming weeks. Many are expecting the team to keep three running backs (not including FB/TE hybrid Kyle Juszczyk), giving Forsett the opportunity to not only make the 53-man roster to start the season, but to fight for a spot when the Ravens’ number one comes back in Week 3.
As RSR’s Tale of the Tape article early in the off-season highlighted, Forsett is a gamer, and he’s shown as much so far this summer.
RSR’s Brian Bower has been on-site at training camp, and has been impressed with what he’s seen live.
Forsett’s work ethic is evident, something that seems to be paying off for the journeyman. He’s reportedly taking some first-team reps along with Rice and Bernard Pierce, and Bower says he’s been turning a few heads.
“He looks fast and he is really excelling in third down passing situations,” Bower says. “He has shown very good hands in the backfield.”
With Pierce expected to handle the load on early-down plays in the first two weeks, Forsett may have the edge over Lorenzo Taliaferro when it comes to the third down and change-of-pace snaps.
While the high draft pick used on the former Coastal Carolina running back would generally give him an edge, don’t be surprised to see the experience of Forsett give him the advantage early.
On the outside, it’s easy to speculate that Gary Kubiak’s offense will feature a certain number of backs, but the recent history of the running back depth chart in Baltimore has been shaky at best.
Simply put, you aren’t going to want to bet any money on this race, as clear as it may seem.
Last year, Bobby Rainey did everything he needed to do to secure a spot on the 53. As easy as the decision seemed to put the shifty back on the roster, the Ravens opted to go elsewhere – ultimately paying for the move mid-season.
It appears likely that the Ravens keep three backs on the active roster all season. Once Rice comes back into the picture in Week 3, Forsett or Taliaferro would presumably be nixed from the active roster – unless, however, both prove they’re too good to let go.
It’s all going to depend on the one or two extra slots on the depth chart and the critical availability the team decides on.
Will the running back battle decide Keith Wenning or Tyrod Taylor’s future in Baltimore?
Does a guy like Michael Campanaro get pushed to the practice squad to make room for a four-headed monster in the backfield?
Ozzie Newsome has decisions to make, and a lot of them can potentially depend on Forsett’s on-field play.
Forsett hopes he can turn the one-year deal he signed in April into a long-term commitment in Baltimore, but he’ll have to come up huge when it counts to work his way around the many obstacles that await.