The Baltimore Ravens’ running game begins and ends with Ray Rice. However, the Ravens under John Harbaugh have had success on the ground with a committee backfield. This year seems to be no different as the rookie Bernard Pierce out of Temple is stepping into the backup role after veteran Ricky Williams retired during the offseason.
Bernard Pierce is deceivingly quick for his 6’0”, 218 lb frame, and is a natural one-cut runner that provides a nice change of pace from Ray Rice. We’ve seen Pierce come into the game in some short yardage situations and power running packages, where he’s been mildly successful at chipping away some quick yards while Ray Rice gets a break on the sideline. Against the Browns, however, we got our first glimpse at what Pierce is really capable of.
Pierce averaged 8.0 yards per carry against Cleveland, as he was able to take advantage of their blitz-heavy scheme and find some running lanes off tackle. His highlight of the night was a 21 yard run where Pierce took a quick cut outside, behind Kelechi Osemele, before exploding into the second level. Pierce was consistently finishing off runs with his head down, getting some difficult yards by bulldozing over defenders. Pierce’s hard, downhill running helped keep the offense alive while Rice struggled finding holes in the defense.
While Rice is without a doubt Baltimore’s premier running back, Pierce’s prototypical running back build allows him to compliment Rice’s running style quite nicely in a similar fashion that Williams did last season. I expect to see Bernard Pierce to get around five or six carries a game which will be great experience for a young player still learning the game.