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The Ravens seemed to have learned their lesson in stopping bigger running backs after Cleveland’s 250-pound bruiser Peyton Hillis rushed for 144 yards against them in Week 3.
In Week 10, 245-pound Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner was held to only 39 yards on 17 carries.
This weekend, the Ravens have a similarly-sized challenge in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 6-foot, 244-pound rookie LeGarrette Blount.
“He’s a lot like Hillis,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. “He’s a real big, downhill running guy. [Blount is] very similar. It will be a challenge for us. He’s a physical back, and they’ve got a pretty physical offensive line.”
Blount has been running over people this season, logging 101 attempts for 441 yards and an impressive 4.4 yards per carry.
The former undrafted free agent also owns a team-best four rushing touchdowns, and his 63.0-average per game is the NFL’s best among rookies. What’s more, he is second among all runners with 16.8 percent of his carries going for 10 or more yards (17).
His toughness in grinding out physical yards led a few Ravens defenders to admire his style.
“He reminds me of myself, what I would look like toting that thing,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “Peyton Hillis is a little bigger back but this guy’s definitely a big-style back and it’ll be fun to play against him.”
Obviously, the Buccaneers are not afraid to hitch their ground game to this young runner.
“LeGarrette is a big part of what we’ve been doing,” said Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman. “He brings an added dimension of physicality to our running game. He breaks a lot of tackles and makes a lot of people miss.
“He’s been playing really solid football.”
Baltimore rebounded well against the Hillis-type of back by stuffing its next-largest target. The key to slowing Turner was wrapping Turner at the first point of contact and then gang tackling.
The Ravens plan on continuing the trend Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
“He’s a big, physical, one-cut guy. He’s going to make his move and then he’s coming downhill,” said Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson. “I think you’ve got to get to him before he makes that cut. You’ve got to disrupt him in the backfield and can’t let him build his momentum.
“You get him around guys that are smaller than him, he’s going to hurt them.”