Ravens beat writer Jamison Hensley:
As I touched upon Monday, the Ravens will likely go with a running back by committee approach because there is no established starter. The three tailbacks on the roster -- Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro -- have a combined nine NFL starts. That's a stark contrast to Rice's 80 career starts.
Forsett is the favorite to start Thursday night after he gained 70 yards on 11 carries in the season opener and played most of the snaps in the second half. Harbaugh explained that Forsett got the chance because Pierce fumbled in the second quarter, but Forsett's production kept Pierce on the sideline.
Pierce remains in the Ravens' plan at running back despite being benched for the entire second half Sunday, Harbaugh said. Of all of the Ravens' backs, Pierce figures to be the back who ends up with the most carries by the end of the season.
It's interesting that Hensley believes that Forsett is the favorite to start yet he also suggest that Pierce will get the most carries this year. Our money is on Pierce for the long haul, but he wasn't very good last year and didn't get off to an inspiring start in Week 1. Taliaferro is the wild card.
Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson: OC Hue Jackson said he didn’t play Jeremy Hill a lot Sunday because he didn’t want to throw a rookie in there in a hostile environment on the road against a good defense. The No. 1 thing you have to do to beat Baltimore at home is not turn it over and stay away from mistakes and so it was a veteran’s game. But don’t worry. Hue knows Hill is around. My guess is he’ll end up with more carries than the rookie Giovani Bernard got with 170 last year. And he’ll get more when the Ravens are at Paul Brown Stadium Oct. 26.
Hill was reportedly told after the game that he would get more work going forward, so we're still looking for a Bernard/Hill combination backfield with Bernard getting most of the touches. Owners weak at running back should not part ways with Hill just yet.
Flacco on Tuesday clarified comments he made to CBS broadcaster Solomon Wilcots, who in calling Sunday's game said the quarterback told him Smith needs to continue working on his underneath routes.
“I think most of what I said, what I said during training camp, was that in the past, a lot of those underneath things in the stop routes, on the sideline, things like that, they were the things that we probably struggled with a little bit," Flacco said Tuesday. "But so far this year, they have been incredible. What I believe, what I probably said or was referring to, is Torrey is a 1,000-yard receiver and he’s a 100-catch guy.
"And the thing that’s going to get him to those 100 catches is going to be it’s not going to be running by guys and catching home runs over the top and all the things that he does really, really well, because he has that talent. It’s going to be those little things."
Smith has always had more value in standard formats than PPR formats because he's not particularly adept at the short stuff. Smith averaged 4.06 catches in 2013 and had three in Week 1. To reach the 100-catch mark, he'll need to average 6.47 receptions in the final 15 games. Considering he only saw seven of Flacco's 62 pass attempts in Week 1, we feel that this mark is a long shot. However, Flacco's insistence is encouraging from the standpoint that Smith should be more involved than he was in Week 1.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 12:53pm
Steelers starting running back Le'Veon Bell played 56 snaps, with LeGarrette Blount logging only six. Rookie Dri Archer played 14 snaps before leaving the game in the second half with a sprained ankle.
So much for splitting carries. Perhaps this was a motivational tool all along for Bell. If so, it worked and Bell had a big day against the Browns. It could be a little tougher matchup on a short week against the Ravens, and perhaps Blount is more of a factor as a result. But, Bell now looks like a safe lineup play.
If you didn't pick up on it, Harbaugh named every tailback on the roster. As I wrote earlier, Forsett earned the right to start against the Steelers after gaining 70 yards on 11 carries in the season opener.
But, since no one in the backfield is an established starter, Harbaugh will likely go with the hot hand each game. The approach is probably a running-back-by-committee, so Harbaugh would be right in naming everyone a starter.
Pierce fumbled in Week 1 and promptly rode the bench allowing for a nice day for Forsett. But Forsett probably isn't viewed as a longterm answer and it's hard to believe the team wouldn't give Pierce another shot with Rice now out of the picture. This is shaping up to be a committee and even in a nice matchup against the Steelers, who were gashed at times but the Browns last week, you may just want to stay clear of this situation given all that's going on with the team on a short week.
Wetzel was told that one factor was his version of what happened didn't match with video, which was released Sunday night, apparently showing Rice punching his then-fiance in an elevator. So, it appears that the outrage over the video has resulted in the release. The initial fantasy reaction is that this is now Bernard Pierce’s show, but the team didn’t show a whole lot of confidence in Pierce when they benched him after he lost a fumble against the Bengals. Still, that was an in-game situation and now that Rice is out of the picture, we have to expect that Pierce will be given every chance to carry the load. He looked good in camp and multiple sources have said that he’s a great fit for Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme. Justin Forsett should continue to have a big role, especially in the passing game, while rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro (who did not get a single touch in Week 1) will try to work his way into the mix.
A video surfaced overnight of Rice apparently punching his then-fiance in a hotel elevator. Rice was suspended for two games for the incident and was scheduled to come back Week 3. For owners, this is obviously something to monitor. From a fantasy point, the Ravens RB situation is a mess right now after Bernard Pierce was benched for a fumble. Justin Forsett took over as the lead back and it remains to be seen who gets the start in a short week against the Steelers Thursday night in what now looks like a good matchup. Lorenzo Taliaferro could also be in the mix for carries as well.
Sunday, September 7, 2014, 7:12pm
Eifert was forced from Sunday's season-opening 23-16 win versus the Baltimore Ravens after landing awkwardly on his arm in the first quarter. It appeared that Eifert dislocated his elbow on the play.
He was immediately sent to the locker room and did not return. Prior to the injury, Eifert was leading the Bengals' aerial attack with three catches for 37 yards in 12 minutes of action.
NFL Media's Albert Breer reports, per a Bengals source, that the team believes the pass-catching tight end dislocated his elbow, likely sidelining him for an extended period.
Jay Glazer is reporting the hope is Eifert only misses a few weeks. With WR Marvin Jones also injured, the Bengals will have to lean heavily on WR Mohamed Sanu and RB Giovani Bernard in the passing game. Jermaine Gresham and Alexander Smith are next in line at TE with Gresham likely the guy to get a bulk of the work.
Friday, September 5, 2014, 5:45pm
Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (concussion, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 1. Pierce is ready to carry the load in a tough matchup against the Bengals with Ray Rice sidelined due to suspension. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett will serve as change-of-pace backs.
Friday, September 5, 2014, 5:45pm
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (shoulder, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 1. Eifert had his owners pretty worried heading into the season, but it looks like he's good to go. He's a TE2-type heading into a tough matchup with the Ravens.
Bernard Pierce is completely recovered from a concussion suffered during the preseason and is ready to handle the Ravens' starting running back job for the next two weeks, a team official said. Pierce is perfectly suited for Gary Kubiak's one-cut system because he is big enough to run between the tackles and has the quickness to hit the holes. The one question mark is Pierce's vision, as he doesn't always hit the right lanes. The Ravens will look to establish the run early, even though the Bengals were one of the top run defenses in the league last year. Everything stems from setting up the run in Kubiak's offense, a team official noted. Look for Pierce to get a lot of touches.
Thursday, September 4, 2014, 6:23pm
Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (concussion) took full practice reps again Thursday. Pierce is ready to carry the load in a tough matchup against the Bengals with Ray Rice sidelined due to suspension. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett will serve as change-of-pace backs.
Thursday, September 4, 2014, 6:23pm
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (shoulder) took full practice reps again Thursday. Eifert had his owners pretty worried heading into the season, but it looks like he's good to go. He's a TE2-type heading into a tough matchup with the Ravens.
Tight end Garrett Graham might not play against Washington because of a back injury.
Graham, who has replaced Owen Daniels as the starter, hasn’t been able to practice.
“It’s not a major injury (but), he may not be able to play,” coach Bill O’Brien said after practice today. “We’ll have to work him out the morning of the game.”
Rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz, a third-round pick, will start in place of Graham if he’s unable to play.
Fiedorowicz would be a desperation play at this point in the season.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 7:02pm
Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (concussion) practiced fully Wednesday. Pierce is ready to carry the load in a tough matchup against the Bengals with Ray Rice sidelined due to suspension. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett will serve as change-of-pace backs.