Now, Taliaferro has a prime chance to contribute as a rookie to a running game that ranked 30th in the NFL last season.
Starting running back Ray Rice is facing a potential NFL suspension under the personal-conduct policy due to a felony aggravated assault charge stemming from a domestic violence incident at an Atlantic City, N.J. casino involving his fiancée, whom he later married.
And backup runner Bernard Pierce is out until training camp after undergoing rotator cuff surgery in January. Both Rice and Pierce were unproductive last season as the Ravens had the worst rushing season in franchise history.
“This is a fantastic opportunity, being that I’ve made it to an actual team that was struggling in the running game last year,” Taliaferro said. “The fact that they brought me in means a lot to me personally.
“I think I’ve looked decent so far. There are a lot of things I need to improve on besides just running the ball. I got to get everything down, pass protection, routes and the playbook. I’ve just got to continue to work.”
It’s difficult to judge Taliaferro based on non-contact drills, but he certainly didn’t look lost during his first NFL practices.
Taliaferro ran with authority and caught the football cleanly, drawing positive reviews from Harbaugh.
“I thought Lorenzo was very smooth running the ball,” Harbaugh said. “He did a nice job picking up the aiming points and the reads. He looks like he is a big guy, a downhill guy. I was very impressed with what kind of shape he is in.
“There is not an ounce of fat on him, and he is 230 pounds. Very good at pass protection. I thought he showed excellent hands and get-away ability on his routes when he went against a linebacker.”
Harrod has already made plans to drive up to Baltimore to attend Taliaferro’s games.
He says he’ll be surprised if Taliaferro doesn’t make a quick transition to the NFL.
“I’ve told him, ‘Man, just looking from the outside at the circumstances, you have to be ready to play and you have to be more mentally tough than you’ve ever been in your life,’” Harrod said. “I think he’s geared up. In October, November and December when it’s cold, you’re going to need that big guy to pound it up in there. They’ve got a kid who can run the football in between the tackles that’s willing to block.”