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Three Running Backs Vying For Backup Role

Anthony Allen and Damien Berry are prepared to mentor rookie Bernard Pierce.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Thursday, May 17th, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

It looked like Anthony Allen and Damien Berry would be competing with each other for the backup running back spot this year.

After all, they were the only two running backs on the Ravens’ roster after Ricky Williams’ surprise retirement.

Then, with the 84th pick in the third round of the NFL Draft, the Ravens selected running back Bernard Pierce out of Temple. There’s now another prominent figure in the mix.

“It’s competition,” Allen said on Wednesday. “You’ve got to take the best available guys at the right point. I understand he was the best available guy at the time. He was very productive in college and now he’s coming in and adding to the mix.”

“It’s nothing,” Berry added. “We embrace competition. Competition brings the best out of all of us. It’s just time to work.”

Allen, a seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech last year, and Berry, an undrafted free agent out of Miami, have been closely working with each other for the past year.

They often hang out with each other in the locker room, spend time studying the playbook at Allen’s place, and have accompanied each other throughout the team’s voluntary strength and conditioning program this spring.

Allen has only spent a day with Pierce so far, but he will welcome him into their study group.

At the same time, Allen is looking to showcase his growth. Last year, he was learning an entirely new offensive system, much different from the option offense he ran at Georgia Tech. That, as well as Williams’ presence, meant Allen suited up for just five games and had three carries for eight yards in late-game duty.

But now that he’s more comfortable with the scheme, Allen says he can just go out and play as opposed to thinking on the field.

“Coach [Wilbert Montgomery] was telling me the other day, ‘Man, you’re 10 times better than you were when you first got here,’” Allen said.

Berry is bringing a different physical presence to the field this year. He reported to the Ravens at 207 pounds last year, and is up to 223 pounds now after adding muscle.

“I’m still fast and everything. I’m just adding weight to protect myself,” Berry said.

Berry was on the field with Pierce last weekend as the two, and rookie free agents Brandon Pendergrass and Bobby Rainey, shared the touches at camp. He said Pierce is a “great guy who plays with speed and has great hands.”

Going forward, the competition behind Rice could be one of the more interesting battles in camps.

“This is a job interview,” Allen said. “We’re all trying to show our resume and fill it out for them on tape and let them make a decision.”

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