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Training Camp Battles: Baltimore Ravens running backs 2016

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Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Training camp is three days away from getting starting, and with it comes the positional battles. One worth noting, running back.

Current running backs on the Baltimore Ravens roster:

  • Justin Forsett
  • Javorius Allen
  • Lorenzo Taliaferro
  • Kenneth Dixon
  • Terrance West
  • Trent Richardson

No way the Baltimore Ravens keep six running backs in 2016. No team should be doing that ever, but then again Dallas has hoarded tail backs for past two seasons. You never know what goes on in Jerry World. I expect 3-4 on the depth chart this season for Baltimore, and it’s very tough to judge where they’ll be going. Two ways the Ravens can go.

  1. Best Players Available - I know this sounds stupid how they would go with a second option at all, but unlike Kanye West to Taylor Swift, let me finish. The top half of the running back roster is filled with same-styled players. If they go BPA it keeps Forsett, Dixon and Allen. Not a bad trio by any stretch, but that doesn’t leave Baltimore with much power for third down conversions. If Harbaugh & Co. go BPA, expect only 3 on the roster. No need for the extra here, with so many other positions needing more depth.
  2. Mixed bag - Baltimore won’t go strictly off skill alone, and keep a mix of players to create difficulty against the opposition. Justin Forsett is very much a one-cut back with great vision. Allen and Dixon are very similar to Forsett, but also have dual-threat ability: rushing well and catching passes. These three don’t have size to crash through the A gap and bully their way towards a first down or touchdown though, hence why mixed bag exists. This creates the possibility of Lorenzo Taliaferro, Terrance West or Trent Richardson landing over Justin, Javorius or Kenneth. Or in total, Baltimore could keep four, saving a power back.

What we know:

Justin Forsett - The expected starter. With a zone blocking scheme J-Force has proved he’s still a great back, and with low wear & tear on the body still capable of playing a full season. He’s not injury prone, as any player in the league getting bulldogged down by Aaron Donald has the chance of breaking an arm.

Kenneth Dixon - After being drafted I don’t expect him to be cut. His tape is incredible, and I believe he’s the future back Baltimore dreams of. His style is similar to Ray Rice, with great hands, speed, agility and vision. Don’t be surprised if he comes out of training camp with the most praise.

Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen - A multi-tool back that stepped up with Justin Forsett’s injury last season. Buck rushed for 514 yards in 16 games, but only starting in six. He also added another 353 yards receiving. Forsett through 10 games managed only 153 receiving yards. Keep in mind those games Justin had Joe Flacco, whereas Buck had Flacco, Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Mallett.

Lorenzo Taliaferro - Injuries are the story of his career so far, but a good training camp can keep him worthy of a roster spot. I like the idea of having a tough back on the team, with the AFC North a power back always feels necessary.

Terrance West - A tailback that Ravens fans were interested in a couple years back, as West played for Towson. West is built heavy, with a 225 pound frame. Expect him to be the biggest competition against Lorenzo for a possible powerback.

Trent Richardson - What a career. This guy has every single physical gift of a top product NFL athlete, but absolutely no ball-carrier vision. If he had the sight of Justin Forsett we’d be looking at a top back in the NFL, no kidding. Great strength, highlight reel moves, speed, agility— I mean everything, but without a way to find the gap it’s worthless. If anybody can coach him though, it’s the Ravens staff which utilizes running backs in a zone blocking system.

Expected depth chart:

  1. Justin Forsett
  2. Kenneth Dixon
  3. Javorius Allen
  4. Lorenzo Taliaferro

Longest shot to make the team: Trent Richardson

He’s currently on the PUP list, and that’s not a good way to begin training camp. Word is he’ll be off within the week, but it may be too late to salvage. The competition is thick, and T-Rich needs to prove he’s capable.

Surprise cut: Justin Forsett

I can’t see it happening, but if the Ravens value last seasons numbers at all, Javorius brings a good argument to not stick with him. He was outstanding two seasons ago, but the successful franchises don’t hold onto the past too tightly.

Expected cuts:

  1. Trent Richardson
  2. Terrance West
  3. Javorius Allen

It feels as Forsett and Dixon both land on the can’t be cut list. This leaves Javorius Allen as the similar style back who’s job could be threatened. He’s talented, but if Kenneth Dixon produces on the NFL level, the Ravens will jump from Forsett to Dixon in a hurry. They may be serious about Taliaferro staying on the roster for power, in which case Javorius can’t match.

This entire training camp will be interesting, and with the Baltimore Beatdown being in Owings Mills you’ll receive every update possible.