Ravens Training Camp Battle Preview: Javorius Allen vs Lorenzo Taliaferro


Nov 2, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (34) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter of the game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

With OTAs in the rearview mirror, now is the time to look forward to some real action – training camp.  Training camp signals the beginning of a number of position battles for players and teams alike.  This year’s rookies will be hitting the field to take on gritty, established veterans trying to protect their jobs for yet another year.

The Ravens have their fare share of position battles getting ready to take place.  One of the most important in regards to the team’s future is at the running back position.  With incumbent Pro Bowler Justin Forsett returning and nearing the age of 30, the Ravens are working to establish not only a change of pace option for 2015, but the future at the position as well.

Last year and this year, the Ravens used a fourth round draft choice on a running back.  Rising sophomore Lorenzo Taliaferro returns after an up and down rookie season that saw him rush 68 times for 292 yards (4.29 yards per carry) and 4 touchdowns.  This year’s addition is Javorius Allen, who hits the NFL following a very productive college career.

At first glance, you might think that both backs share similar traits and talents.  Both are 6’0″ tall, with Allen coming in only a pound lighter than Taliaferro.  But you would be mistaken.  While Taliaferro has been pigeonholed as a short yardage, goal line bruiser, Allen has been hailed as a pass catcher with blocking chops.

In reality, both backs are going to see the field in some manner in 2015.  But with Justin Forsett eating up snaps in front of them, whoever plays the best will move into the more defined #2 role.  As the Ravens have shown, they don’t mind rotating multiple backs depending on game situations.  And both Allen and Taliaferro have their own unique talents.

It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them utilize Allen as a pass catching back in rotation with Forsett or in 3 and long situations.  It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the Ravens utilize Taliaferro in goal line and short yardage scenarios.  Both can also provide Forsett with a breather when needed.

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While both are talented backs in their own right, Taliaferro is more of a proven commodity while Allen perhaps offers more upside.  Marc Trestman’s offense has traditionally featured running backs in the passing game, which also gives him an edge.  And though Taliaferro has a year under his belt in the pros, Allen played in a pro style offense in college.

So who will end the year with more carries?  The safe choice is Taliaferro, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Allen eats into his work by the end of the year.  But stay tuned, because how both perform in training camp and the preseason will likely have a big impact on how things pan out.

Next: Nick Boyle: Super Sleeper?

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