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Ravens rookie running back Anthony Allen could have been one of the heroes of Thursday night’s game versus the Washington Redskins.
With two minutes and 16 seconds remaining in the game and the Skins up by four points, quarterback Tyrod Taylor lofted a pass to Allen, who had blazed by a Washington defender, in the end zone.
“I saw the ball and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, here we go. I do this every day,’” Allen said. “Then I short-stroked it.”
In other words, he dropped it. Allen continued running through the back of the end zone and buried his head into the M&T Bank Stadium concourse, as if he was looking for a place to hide.
It was a moment in which the seventh-round pick could have made a statement in his battle for the third running back position behind Ray Rice and Ricky Williams.
But in the end, it seemingly will have little impact on whether he makes the team.
That’s because Allen’s overall performance this preseason have impressed Head Coach John Harbaugh.
“The funny thing is he has great hands,” Harbaugh said. “He’s one of the best hands guy on our team, especially in the backfield. He’ll make a lot more of those [catches] in his career than he’ll drop.
“He had some huge runs, north-south running. He had a good game. [In] pass protection [he] did a good job too.”
Allen has 10 combined rushes for 64 yards in three preseason games, an impressive average of 6.4 yards per carry. He had a 1-yard touchdown run and gallop for 14 yards versus Kansas City and broke off a 20-yarder against the Redskins.
The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder out of Georgia Tech has shown his strong, low running style and how difficult he is to bring down. Against the Chiefs, one defender was literally drug as he hung on to the back of the rookie’s jersey.
“I think my physical nature and the way I run the ball late in the game tends to help,” Allen said. “It just comes with the size.”
Allen’s main competition for a spot on the Ravens’ 53-man roster is fourth-year veteran Jalen Parmele. He was the Ravens’ third running back last year and also served some as their kickoff returner.
Parmele has run 15 times for 55 yards (3.7-yard average), including a 10-yard touchdown, this preseason. He has also been one of several Ravens in the mix at kickoff returner.
While Allen didn’t help himself with the dropped pass Thursday night, Parmele had a fourth-quarter fumble near the Ravens’ red zone.
One factor in the coaches’ decision could be how much Parmele offers in the return game. If Baltimore determines that wide receiver David Reed will be their primary returner, then that could affect Parmele’s value.
Historically, the chances of late-round running backs making the Ravens’ roster haven’t been good. Sixth-rounder Cedric Peerman didn’t make it in 2009, nor did seventh-rounder Allen Patrick in 2008.
But Allen is hoping to turn the tide – and he’s making a strong bid to do so.
“Every game is an audition for me,” Allen said. “I’m just trying to put my best foot forward and my best stuff on the tape so I can make this team.”