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Running back Jalen Parmele has been a spot player for the Ravens for most of the year, but he stepped up in a big way when he was needed last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With cornerback Lardarius Webb’s season-ending knee injury keeping him from his regular kickoff return duties, Parmele got the nod in Baltimore’s 23-20 loss. It was a mystery exactly who would return kickoffs leading up to, well… kickoff. Parmele, Tom Zbikowski and Chris Carr all practiced fielding punts in pre-game warm-ups. Carr continued handling punt returns.
Parmele acquitted himself well, averaging 29.0 yards on five returns (146 total yards), including a 48-yarder late in the fourth quarter.
“Jalen, on the kick returns, was very good,” said head coach John Harbaugh. “He’s a north/south [runner]. He’s physical, as you saw. He’s got a little bit of speed. So, it’s good to see a guy step up. Lardarius was doing well with that, but Jalen has been working hard all year. I think he’s a threat. He’s going to do a good job for us.”
It was especially refreshing considering Parmele hadn’t returned a kick since his senior campaign at the University of Toledo.
“I was a little rusty,” Parmele said. “I had to get used to it a little, but after the first two (returns), that’s when I really started feeling comfortable out there.”
Parmele gave the Ravens a solid chance for a win in the final period. Following a Steelers field goal to make it 23-20, he fielded a kickoff at the Ravens’ 3-yard line, burst up the middle and then cut to the right sideline, where he was pushed out of bounds at Pittsburgh’s 49.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, quarterback Joe Flacco fumbled away the possession six plays later.
“It was a middle return,” Parmele said. “All my blocks set up perfectly, and I just had to find the creases. Everyone did their jobs.”