The way Damien Berry explains it, the fact that he's wearing No. 23 is purely a coincidence.
Berry is a running back out of the University of Miami. Willis McGahee, who wore No. 23 the last four seasons with the Ravens before being released two weeks ago, is also a running back from "The U".
But Berry, an undrafted rookie, insists that he's not trying to make a statement with his jersey number or assume McGahee's role in the Ravens' locker room.
"I mean, it was a total surprise. I came in and they had No. 23 in my locker," Berry said. "I'm proud to wear it. I'm definitely going to represent for Willis and try to build on what he left here."
Berry knows it's too soon for him to talk about replacing the production that McGahee - a Pro Bowler in 2007 - brought to the offense, but he would love to take on some of the former Raven's responsibilities.
With McGahee's release and subsequent signing with the Broncos and fullback Le'Ron McClain joining the Chiefs via free agency, the Ravens have a need for a backup running back, someone who can come in on third downs and take the load off of Ray Rice.
Berry has been working with the second-team offense so far in camp, and has shown an impressive burst and the ability to keep his legs moving after first contact. Berry might be behind veterans like Jalen Parmele and Matt Lawrence on the depth chart at this point, but he hopes to make a name for himself as training camp goes on.
"I have a great opportunity ahead of me," Berry said. "Getting a lot of reps. Just trying to do what I can. Stay after (practice), catch punts, do whatever I can to make this team. Then, once I'm on the team, I want to contribute to the team."
Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery says that Berry, a second-team All-ACC performer last year after rushing for 899 yards and five touchdowns on 190 carries, doesn't lack in the confidence department. The Miami product has run hard so far in camp, and while his touches have been somewhat limited early on, Montgomery likes what he's seen out of the undrafted rookie.
"Damien, you know, he has to come in and earn his spot," Montgomery said. "Damien is a tough kid, hard-nosed kid, and that's the way he was in college. And so far, he has shown some of that toughness here, so I'm looking forward to what he really can do once we start going at it."
Berry isn't just in a battle with Parmele and Lawrence for playing time, he's also got Anthony Allen, a seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech, and fellow undrafted free agent Walter Sanders to compete with.
While there's a constant battle for jobs at play, the dynamic among the young running backs seems to be a strong one, with the rookies pushing each other and picking the brains of the older guys throughout practice.
"I think we're a talented group that came in - myself, Walter, Ant," Berry said. "Ant is doing a great job stepping up. He's even helping me out, learning the offense, learning the plays. Ray's a great leader. He's also helping us learn the plays.
"Hopefully we will step up. Not hopefully - we will step up. Both of us ACC guys, we came out of big programs, and we know what it takes to try and get the job done."