Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
The one-two punch of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce has been huge for the Ravens here in the post season. If Pierce is unable to play Sunday it could really hurt the offense.
During the post season Baltimore's back up running back Bernard Pierce has shown to be a valued asset to the offense an even an added play-maker. During Saturday's amazing win against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs Pierce reportedly "tweaked" his knee. A knee that had Pierce limited in practice leading up to the game as well.
Having Pierce emerge as, not just a viable option when Ray Rice needs a breather, but an actual play-making threat has given the Ravens an added boost to their ever emerging offensive fire power. If he is unable to go against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game it could be truly detrimental to the Ravens offense.
Baltimore's third string back is Anthony Allen, who was once considered to (possibly) be the back up to Rice this season, when Ricky Williams announced his retirement. Allen has never really gotten many in-game opportunities to show what he can do at the NFL level but he hasn't shown much in the time that he has gotten. He has seen preseason work when the starters were removed from the game and the same at the end of this season in the loss to Cincinnati.
Allen was drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 draft and has spent time between the Ravens roster and practice squad since then. In 2010 at Georgia Tech he ran for 1,316 yards on 240 attempts with seven touchdowns as part of a split back system. This was, by far, his best year.
The Ravens have shown little trust in Allen as an every day running back or even viable number two option to Ray Rice as they have either signed a veteran running back or drafted one higher in the draft to back up Ray Rice in both of his seasons with the team. Allen may do just fine as a body on the field if Rice needs a breather but he undoubtedly be a significant down grade from Pierce who has big play potential every time he touches the ball.
The Ravens have not come out with an official statement on the injury to Pierce yet so they are probably taking it day to day to see how he heals up during the week but the fact that he never re-entered the game vs. Denver is not a good sign. This will either mean a much larger work load for Rice, who I'm sure is up for the task, or that Allen may get some chances to tote the rock on one of the biggest of stages. Then again I'm sure head coach John Harbaugh is not going to give out any inside information heading into such a big game. For all he knows there could be spies in camp already...
Let's all hope that the injury to Pierce isn't as bad as it seems and the fact that he sat the rest of the Denver game was purely precautionary but if not we will need to get behind Allen and hope that at the very least he does nothing to set the offense back on game day. It's a shame that running back Bobby Rainey was placed on injured reserve in November as he showed much potential during the preseason. I would have liked to see him implemented in the offense at some point this season at least. Maybe next year...