Examining the Ravens' running back possibilites

Ricky Williams' decision to retire from the NFL with one year left on his contract with the Ravens leaves the team in an interesting position. Believe it or not, the running backs the Ravens currently have under contract for next season have just three career carries under their belts, collectively.

Obviously, that number is a bit deceiving. Although two-time Pro Bowler Ray Rice is an unrestricted free agent, he will definitely be back with the Ravens next season, either under the first year of a new long-term contract, or playing under the franchise tag.

But other than Rice, the Ravens currently have very little proven talent at running back to work with for next season. So who will become their backup running back and provide insurance in case Rice gets injured?

Here are the three guys that have experience with the Ravens who could be back next season, and a few veteran running backs who could be options on the free agent market:

Guys we know

Anthony Allen, 2011 seventh-round pick: Allen was on the Ravens' 53-man roster all season, but was active for just five games, and had only three carries for eight yards on the season. In the preseason, Allen was impressive in limited work, recording 75 yards on 11 carries (6.8 yards per rush) and a touchdown. At Georgia Tech, Allen had over 1,300 yards his senior season running out of the Yellow Jackets' triple-option offense. He's a big body (6-foot, 230 lbs.) and the coaches were pleased with what they saw from him last training camp.

Damien_Berry-sidebar.jpgDamien Berry, 2011 undrafted free agent: Berry (at right) spent the entire season on the Ravens' practice squad, but that didn't stop him from bouncing around the locker room and showing off his outgoing personality. At the University of Miami, Berry put up over 1,500 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in just two seasons as a running back (he transitioned from safety his junior year). He was somewhat buried on the depth chart last summer and put up 34 yards on nine carries in the 2011 preseason. It will be interesting to see how far he's progressed after a year of experience - even if that experience is just on practice squad - with an NFL club.

Matt Lawrence, 2008 undrafted free agent: The 26-year-old Lawrence can't seem to stay healthy for more than a few weeks at a time. After becoming one of the Ravens' top special teams players in 2009 - a season in which he also had four carries for zero yards - Lawrence has missed the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons due to injury. He's a restricted free agent this offseason.

Free Agents

Cedric Benson, 29: Could probably get a bigger role elsewhere, but he's still got a good bit left in the tank and it'd be fun to see him on this side of the Ravens-Bengals rivalry.

Cadillac Williams, 29: Averaged 4.1 yards per carry in a reserve role with the Rams last year. It wouldn't cost much to bring him aboard.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, 26: "The Lawfirm" is somewhat tough to evaluate because the Patriots spread their carries all over the place, but he can certainly finish at the goal line, recording 24 touchdowns the last two years.

Ryan Grant, 29: The Packers' former No. 1 RB bounced back from a frustrating ankle injury suffered early in 2010 and put up 559 yards this season. Like Benson, Grant might be able to find a team willing to give him more touches than the Ravens.

Ronnie Brown, 30: Had a disappointing 2011 season with the Eagles, putting up just 136 yards on 42 carries. Would be interesting if the Ravens replaced one former Dolphins running back with the guy he split time with in Miami.

Thomas Jones, 33: Ran for just 478 yards on 153 carries last season with the Chiefs. He might be on his way out.

blog comments powered by Disqus