The abrupt retirement of veteran running back Ricky Williams created a lack of depth at running back, a reality that will be magnified if Pro Bowl back Ray Rice decides to hold out during training camp after receiving the franchise tag earlier this month.
General manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh have expressed faith in second-year running back Anthony Allen’s ability to assume the primary backup role after he received only three carries in his rookie season. But Harbaugh admitted on Tuesday that the Ravens will need to add more depth at the position between now and the start of camp.
“We think a lot of him, we think a lot of Damien Berry,” Harbaugh said. “We think they’re going to have very good seasons. But we’ve got to look at some insurance, too. We’ve got to have more than two running backs on our roster, so we’ll add some guys.”
Berry spent last season on the practice squad after being signed as an undrafted free agent from the University of Miami.
Whether adding a veteran or looking to the middle or late rounds of April’s draft, it’s clear the Ravens aren’t content with simply handing the No. 2 spot to Allen despite the former Georgia Tech running back impressing the coaching staff last preseason.
Beefing up the line
Harbaugh provided encouraging words last Friday regarding the possibility of second-year lineman Jah Reid replacing the departed Ben Grubbs at left guard — saying he was the starter “today” — but the coach took a more cautious tone when asked about the overall state of his offensive line.
Considering the organization’s stated desire to improve the offensive line and following Grubbs’ decision to sign a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints, the Ravens have only regressed in that department since the start of free agency. Even if Reid can take the reins at left guard, the Ravens must still add depth as well as consider long-term solutions at left tackle and center, where veterans Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk are only short-term answers.
“We have to upgrade the offensive line,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t even know if we have a full complement of linemen to be on our 53-man roster right now. We don’t have our five starters set. We have guys where [you ask], ‘Can they play a position or not?’”
Of all the Ravens’ positional needs, the offensive line is the most critical to address and will likely prove to be the most challenging in trying to add pieces that can contribute immediately and in the future. .
To listen to and watch Harbaugh’s entire conversation with the media at the NFL owners’ meetings in Florida, click HERE.