Bernard Pierce Concussion: What Does It Mean For Ravens Backfield?


Aug 23, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce (30) carries the ball as Washington Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson (52) tackles in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

When Bernard Pierce took a vicious hit from Washington Redskin’s safety Brandon Meriweather, you could hear the collective groans coming from everywhere.  Famous for his multiple fines throughout the years, Meriweather carries the reputation of being a bit of a headhunter in the NFL.  And he solidified that status Saturday night following the facemask to facemask hit that resulted in a Bernard Pierce concussion, and a helmet to helmet hit on wide receiver Torrey Smith.

Regardless of Meriweather’s constant excuses about how he isn’t at fault even though he continues to cause an inordinate amount of damage to opposing offensive players, the damage to the Raven’s running back situation has already been done.  The league will likely impose some sort of fine or suspension after Meriweather was fined $42,000 and suspended one game for his antics in 2013, but that doesn’t help the Ravens at this point.

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The good news is, Pierce has a full two weeks now to go through the NFL’s concussion protocol before the start of the regular season.  The bad news is, there is no way of knowing how long it will take him to recover.  Concussions can be a tricky thing, as evidenced by Pierce’s teammate Will Rackley.  Rackley has missed multiple weeks to date with a concussion of his own.

So it’s entirely possible that Pierce could miss regular season time.  That puts a huge monkey wrench in the Raven’s plans to start Pierce in place of a suspended Ray Rice, who will miss the first two weeks of the season.  It’s also hugely disappointing for Pierce, who is facing the biggest opportunity of his career after playing extremely well this preseason in Gary Kubiak’s zone read offense.

If Pierce does miss regular season time, expect the Ravens to use a combination of Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro to fill the void.  After Pierce exited Saturday night’s game, Taliaferro played mostly on passing downs and at the goal line, while Forsett filled in on early downs.  Ray Rice didn’t play a single snap, even after Pierce left.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on Pierce, but even John Harbaugh admits that it is impossible to guess just how long he will be out at this point.

If Pierce ends up missing regular season time, the Ravens may be forced to rethink their running back depth chart, at least for a week or two. The team could keep Cierre Wood around, or look to sign another back after the first wave of cuts come early this week.