As the Ravens running backs were plowing ahead for 4.8 yards a carry on Monday night, it was hard to tell that the Ravens were down to their third- and fourth-string backs.
With Justin Forsett (broken arm) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot surgery) out for the season, the Ravens have turned the run game over to rookie Buck Allen and Baltimore native Terrance West, who is on his third team this fall and was promoted from the Ravens practice squad two weeks ago.
And judging by Monday's result, it appears the running game is in good hands with them.
Against the Browns, Allen ran 12 times for 55 yards (4.6 avg.) and West, in his Ravens debut, had 37 yards on seven carries (5.3 avg.). And this was running behind an offensive line that was missing three starters.
"I thought Buck and Terrance West both ran really hard," coach John Harbaugh said after the game Monday night. "They are high and tight with the football, they're getting stripped the whole game, breaking tackles, pushing the pile. I think they both showed they are capable of being top-notch NFL running backs."
Granted, the Browns entered the game with the league's lowest-rated run defense, allowing more than 138 yards a game. This week, the Ravens face a Dolphins team that has overaken the Browns as the worst-rated run defense in the league (138.5 yards allowed per game).
Both Allen and West also contributed in the passing game. Allen caught four passes for 29 yards, including his first career touchdown, and both he and West came up with big blitz pickups in pass protection.
This could make for a crowded running back picture next fall, assuming Forsett and Taliaferro return healthy, but for now, Allen and West are the next men up, and they are embracing their chance.
Allen on Wednesday gave credit to running backs coach Thomas Hammock, saying he "believes in the guys he has in the room. That’s why we’re in that room. So, I don’t think he ever panicked or was like, ‘What are we going to do?’" after the injuries to Forsett and Taliaferro.
"He prepared me for this moment during OTAs and during camp," Allen said, "and I knew my time was going to come. When it comes, I’ve just got to take full advantage of it and be ready.”