When veteran running back Justin Forsett went down to the field with a broken arm, fans immediately got scared. The idea that yet another offensive player would be done for the year and that the running game would be left up to a rookie was definitely nauseating for Ravens fans. Yet, he gets a chance to surprise everyone by facing off against the worst run defense in the league for his first shot at being a starter.
We've all seen hints of Javorius Allen's talent. His 64 attempts have led him to stockpile 249 yards, averaging just under 4 yards per carry in reserve duty. Now Allen gets to be the starter for the first time against the same Cleveland Browns team that gave him his longest run of the season, 44 yards in week 5. Sure the Ravens will undoubtedly split carries with Terrance West and full back Kyle Juszczyk, but the bulk of the load will go to the rookie rusher.
With the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens get the worst run defense in the league, allowing them to forcefully slam Allen right down their throats and to control the pace of the game. Having given up 138.8 yards on the ground per game, Allen could very well see his first chance as a starter be worthy of a highlight reel on ESPN later this week.
Truly figured to be the X-factor tonight against the Cleveland Browns, his stat line will tell the whole story. More than just a handful of carries with a couple of yards and the Ravens could very well win it. If Allen is barely noticeable, it probably means that the Ravens had to rely on the arm and accuracy of quarterback Matt Schaub, not something they want to do right out of the gate.
When the Ravens selected Allen out of Southern California with the 125th overall pick in the 4th round, they never envisioned him taking starting snaps immediately. Starter Justin Forsett had bounced around the league and despite being 30, had never really been beaten up like most older rushers have been. Then again, few could have ever expected the rash of injuries the Ravens have seen this season, allowing so many young players to get their chances to shine.
Allen, much like the rest of them, will be counted on moving forward to provide the running element to the Ravens offensive attack. If he does well, the Ravens might be giving him even more responsibility in 2016.