Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro giving Bernard Pierce a chance to heal

Big running backs make a difference in second half

(Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
September 29, 2014|Mike Preston

Ravens running back Bernard Pierce can take his time healing his injured quadriceps.

He can hang out in the whirlpool and get a couple of deep tissue massages. Get some more ultrasound treatments.

If he wants, take another week or two off.

I'm a supporter of the big back club and the Ravens have two of them in rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro (226 pounds) and, when he returns, in Pierce (230 pounds).

Former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis made a believer out of me. A team can have a home-run hitter at tailback, but there is nothing more demoralizing in football than a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a 230-pound running back shoving the ball down your throat.

And nothing compares to having a Lewis-type finish off an opponent in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens said they weren't in need of Pierce's services Sunday because he had not recovered completely from his injury.

The week before, the Ravens turned Taliaferro loose on the Cleveland Browns as he rushed 18 times for 91 yards in a 23-21 victory. On Sunday, Justin Forsett took most of the carries in the first half for the Ravens as he finished with 66 yards, but it was Taliaferro who made the Panthers quit in the second.

The Ravens kept pounding and pounding Taliaferro in the final two quarters. He had just two carries for two yards in the first half, but finished with 15 carries for 58 yards.

The Panthers tapped out.

"Justin started the game hot. He broke some big runs. He broke some big tackles," Taliaferro said. "Coach [Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak] came to me at halftime and said, 'Hey can you finish the game for us?' I just went out there and did everything I could."

As for Pierce, he can take it easy. Don't press. When he gets back, it will give the Ravens three solid runners, including two big backs. As a rookie, Taliaferro will probably wear down before the end of the season.

"He wasn't really 100 percent," Harbaugh said of Pierce after the game. "But, it turned out we didn't need to go with him, so it was a plus for us."

Harbaugh has a good job

With the University of Michigan performing so poorly this season, it is only natural that there are rumors about Ravens coach John Harbaugh becoming the next Wolverines coach.

His father, Jack, was an assistant coach at the school, his brother, Jim, was a starting quarterback and John went to high school in Ann Arbor. Jim Harbaugh might be a better fit because he is an alum, but the younger brother has problems getting along with people.

But I can't see John going there, either. He has been to the playoffs in five of the six years he has been in Baltimore, and received a contract extension during the offseason.

He has a good coaching staff and two strong coordinators in Gary Kubiak and Dean Pees, and a quarterback and general manager in place for the foreseeable future.

Why would he leave Baltimore to go and rebuild a college program, regardless if it is Michigan? That makes no sense.

Heap a worthy choice

Former Ravens tight end Todd Heap went into the Ring of Honor Sunday, and it was well-deserved. Not just because Heap was one of the best at his position during his time here, but he was also a class act off the field.

The only drawback is that he arrived in Baltimore the season after the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000, and left a year before they won their second in 2012.

But if they win another, Heap will get a ring as will all the others in the Ring of Honor. That's now part of the Ravens tradition.

Newton is the real deal

There used to be a popular belief in some NFL circles that African-American quarterbacks often went to poorly run franchises and weren't always given sufficient weapons to win on a regular basis.

The theory is probably a little outdated, but after watching Carolina play Sunday you can certainly say that quarterback Cam Newton needs some help on offense. The Panthers don't have much of a running game and they lack a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

The tackle play on both the right and left sides was atrocious. The belief here is that Newton won't make it through the season without getting hurt again.

The kid is such a wonderful talent.

"Cam Newton is an incredible arm talent. He placed some balls that were incredible," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "Hats off to that guy — he has a heck of an arm."

Now, the Panthers need to get him an offense.

Hurry up, Joe

The Ravens still need to improve their clock management and it starts with quarterback Joe Flacco. For the second straight week, they had an opportunity to score at the end of the half, but they walked in and out of the huddle wasting precious seconds.

Flacco needs to take control and if he picks up the pace so will his teammates. Sometimes Joe Cool becomes Joe Lethargic.

Otherwise, he is playing well and hasn't been sacked in three straight games. A major key is Flacco being able to make his first read quickly and getting rid of the ball.

He used to have problems finding the right touch on some of his passes, but not anymore.

'It's really simple'

Much has been made about receiver Steve Smith's attitude and how it has rubbed off on his teammates. Flacco sees it a little bit more different.

Everything in the world of Flacco always appears so simple.

"The most important thing is that he can catch footballs and score touchdowns and keep us on the field," Flacco said. "It's really simple. He's a good football player. Any time you bring in someone else who can play football, your team gets better."

Nobody can break it down like Joe.

Calm down, Jacoby

Receiver Jacoby Jones needs to relax. He is trying too hard to make plays instead of just playing football, which is why he keeps dropping passes.

He is also trying too hard while while returning punts and kickoffs. There is no excuse for fielding a punt on the 1-yard line.


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