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Ravens running backs: Early depth chart prediction; who's in, who's out?

Ravens running backs: Early depth chart prediction; who's in, who's out?

Months remain between now and Week 1, but the draft is over, and so is rookie minicamp. Ahead of minicamps and training camp, I’ll take a very-early look at the most intriguing battles on the Ravens’ depth chart. Here’s the outlook at running back:

Running backs on the roster

Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Justin Forsett, Trent Richardson, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Terrance West

Outlook

Of the six running backs listed above, the Ravens must decide whether to keep three or four. I’m not including fullback Kyle Juszczyk in this conversation, who is a virtual lock to make the roster.

Drafting Dixon in the fourth round and signing Richardson made it clear that roles would be earned, not given. The Ravens ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing in 2014, but plummeted to 26th in 2015. That does not sit well with coach John Harbaugh, who wants to re-establish the Ravens as a team that runs the football effectively.

Forsett thrives on competition and won’t give up the starting job without a serious fight. But Forsett will turn 31 years old in October. Even if Forsett wins the starting job, the Ravens probably don’t want his carries to exceed 200 for the season.

Allen was solid as a rookie, but averaging 3.8 yards per carry didn’t guarantee him anything. He also fumbled twice in two weeks in December, which temporarily landed him in the doghouse.

It will be interesting to see how committed Richardson is to salvaging his career, after being a major draft bust in 2012 as the No. 3 overall pick by the Browns. If Richardson does not keep himself in shape, he has no chance to make the roster. But Richardson doesn’t turn 26 years old until July 10. He’s still young enough to earn a job in the NFL if he shows he has something left.

Taliaferro must prove he can stay healthy, coming off two straight seasons cut short by foot injuries. It’s also career crossroads time for West, the former Towson star who is already with his third NFL team. West wanted the Ravens to sign him last year, and they did. Will West make the most of the opportunity, or will the depth on this roster be too deep for him to stick?

Dixon may be the most intriguing person in this bunch. Many scouts loved him before the draft, not only because he ran with power during college, but because he was an excellent pass-catcher and route runner. Dixon could find his niche immediately as a third-down back.

Prediction

I give the edge to Forsett remaining the starter, with Allen as the primary backup, and Dixon also seeing game action. That would leave Richardson, Taliaferro, and West fighting to convince Harbaugh the Ravens need to keep a fourth back. If they do keep four backs, I’ll guess West will be the guy. But the competition at this position, coupled with potential injuries, makes the outlook truly wide open.

RELATED: RAVENS WIDE RECEIVERS: EARLY DEPTH CHART PREDICTION; WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT?

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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