Ravens running back Javorius "Buck" Allen probably never expected to be a starter in Week 6 of his rookie season, but increasingly it appears that will be the case Sunday when the Ravens visit the 49ers.
Starter Justin Forsett has missed practice the past two days nursing the ankle injury he sustained against Cleveland on Sunday, and backup Lorenzo Taliaferro has been placed on season-ending injured reserve with a foot injury.
So if Forsett isn't available, that makes Allen the next man up. He said on Thursday that it's an "opportunity I’ve been waiting for, and I feel like my coaches did a great job preparing me for this moment."
Allen, a fourth-round pick out of USC, has 26 carries for 124 yards this season, including a 44-yard scamper against the Browns on Sunday that is the Ravens' longest run of the season.
The Ravens signed undrafted rookie Raheem Mostert off waivers earlier this week, and he'd become the No. 2 if Forsett is unavailable. Terrence Magee is on the Ravens practice squad and could be an option as a No. 3 back. That probably depends on Forsett's availability.
But Allen (6-0, 220) is likely to have the spotlight on him on Sunday. Even if Forsett plays, he won't be at 100 percent and Allen figures to be a major part of the game plan.
"It’s a blessing from above and God working in mysterious ways," Allen said. "If I’ve got to take on the job, I’m going to take it full force and do the best of my ability.”
Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said on Thursday that, "We have a lot of confidence in Buck. We’ve seen him grow in the classroom and certainly on the field over the last month and a half. He’s running the ball better in terms of how he’s finishing and seeing the holes, taking the opportunities to make plays when he gets a chance to do that. We’ve seen his pass protection improve, and his entire focus.
"He is taking the opportunity to seize the moment with the opportunities that he has had.”