On Tuesday morning, the Ravens announced their decision to release veteran running back and fan-favorite Justin Forsett.
The Ravens’ decision to release Forsett has significant ramifications.
Here are five questions to ask:
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1. The Ravens’ backfield is young, but is it too young?
The Ravens’ top three backs now are Terrance West in his NFL third season, Buck Allen in his second season, and Kenneth Dixon in his rookie season.
Even Lorenzo Taliaferro, still on PUP (foot), is only in his third season. Forsett was the veteran leader among the running backs, both in the meeting rooms and at practice. Without him, the Ravens, must count on their younger backs to be productive and accountable, while accepting their roles.
2. Will West remain the No. 1 back, even after Dixon returns from his knee injury?
Dixon showed potential to be a dynamic player while leading the team in rushing during the preseason. Coming off his 113-yard performance in Week 4, West looks like the No. 1 back for now. But Dixon returned to practice last week, and if West falters, Dixon could eventually be the guy.
3. Will the Ravens miss Forsett’s pass-blocking?
This is an area in which Forsett excelled, giving him value in passing situations as both a receiver and as a pass protector. Joe Flacco is already getting hit more often than the Ravens like. The Ravens must compensate for losing the running back that was best at picking up blitzes.
4. Can West and the other young backs avoid fumbling?
Another positive with Forsett was that he rarely coughed up the football. West had a fumble against the Raiders, which was recovered by Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah on a superb hustle play. However, there will be more pressure on West, Dixon, and Allen to avoid fumbles, particularly in crucial situations.
5. Is the Ravens’ running-back-by committee system over?
West had 21 carries against the Raiders, while Allen had just three. Running backs thrive on getting carries and establishing a rhythm, and it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that West became more effective as the Raiders game progressed.
Even if the Ravens don’t always start the same running back every week, making sure that the featured back gets at least 15 carries a game may be the best way to go.