Consistently successful NFL teams maintain quality depth. Depth provides insurance in the event of key injuries and it fuels competition within a team.
The threat of losing a job ushered in by competent competition channels a player’s focus, his attention to detail, the willingness to persevere all of which motivates him to dig a little deeper for even an extra ounce of effort.
Creating such a competitive environment forces athletes to show up on tape in any way they can.
They become more willing participants on special teams.
They do whatever it takes to achieve job security.
This is the culture that teams seek to develop and nurture. The best teams do it and often refer to the process as building a roster from the bottom up. Doing so provides a solid foundation upon which to build sustainable success.
When the Ravens sign or re-sign players like Justin Forsett or Terrence Cody for the veteran minimum without bonuses or guarantees it clearly places such players in a “put-up-or-get-out” position.
This could be their last chance and it fosters a sense of desperation.
And desperate times call for desperate measures.
Competition heats up as careers hang in the balance.
Forsett could be a surprise. He has little tread on his running back tires and when healthy he’s been an effective change-of-pace back, most recently in a Gary Kubiak offense as detailed here earlier this week by RSR’s Kyle Casey.
With Ray Rice’s poor 2013 season along with domestic issues that will likely impact his playing time in 2014 AND Bernard Pierce’s recovery from shoulder surgery, a reminder of his questionable durability, Forsett could stick even if the Ravens draft a running back.
Cody’s return is a bit of a surprise but given the price and the fact that his career hangs by a thread, the Ravens have nothing to lose. Every team needs camp fodder. It’s up to Cody to prove that he’s something more.
If John Harbaugh is lucky Cody will be inspired and even if such inspiration falls short of earning a roster spot, the effort may make the 53rd man on the roster better, then the 52nd and right on up through the food chain.
But it all starts at the bottom.