Rewind to just over two years ago, when running back Bobby Rainey put in a great preseason and made the Ravens' 53-man roster.
Fans were excited about the diminutive running back that seemingly had a great deal of potential ahead of him. However, at the last second, the Ravens went with Anthony Allen instead for special teams reasons. Rainey spent the year on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster, but ended his year on injured reserve.
In 2013, Rainey had another great training camp, only to find himself left off the 53-man roster. It was not a popular decision among the fan base. Rainey then ended up in Cleveland before Tampa Bay. With the Buccaneers, he's been able to put in some great games, showing what the Ravens missed out on by letting him go.
In a game against Atlanta a year ago, Rainey carried the ball 30 times and ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Against Buffalo in 2013, he had a 127-yard, one-touchdown game against Buffalo. In five games with two starts due to an early injury to Doug Martin, Rainey has 220 rushing yards and one touchdown. He posted 144 yards in a 19-17 loss to St. Louis in Week 2.
Rainey has outperformed Martin, though the Bucs have more invested in Martin. Rainey is averaging 4.7 yards per carry while Martin is has only managed 2.5 yards per carry. Ravens coach John Harbaugh understands they let a good player get away, one who would probably contribute to the Ravens this year if the organization was able to hold on to him.
"We like Bobby. It was unfortunate that we lost him," Harbaugh told reporters on Wednesday. "We really wanted him to be here to be a part of what we were doing, but he was claimed and we had to make a move there. I don't know what happened, [but] he somehow got down to Tampa Bay, and the rest is history. He's put a bunch of yards up; he's their leading rusher. They have two really good backs. Both of those guys can make you miss, they're strong [and they have] quick vision. They want to run the ball. It's important to them to run the ball, and they have the two backs to do it with."
Perhaps this is the week coach Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers wake up and let Rainey get more run in their first-team offense than Martin. However, regardless of the running back, the Ravens' front seven has been exceptional through five games. The Ravens rank eighth in the NFL in rushing defense at 91.4 yards per game.
Rainey will do his part to get the Bucs' running game going against a stout front. But his former teammates will do their part to keep him from going. Then again, the Bucs have seen stubborn on rolling with Martin, so it's possible Rainey doesn't even get many chances against his former team.