Slated to be the Ravens’ starting running back as Ray Rice serves a two-game suspension to begin the season, Bernard Pierce left Saturday’s game against the Washington Redskins with a concussion.
The third-year back was injured in the first quarter when Washington safety Brandon Meriweather delivered a blow to his head on a carry for a 5-yard loss. The hit was legal because Pierce was not considered a defenseless player, but Meriweather has earned a reputation for being a headhunter entering his eighth NFL season.
Pierce was taken to the locker room by team doctors as he began going through the league’s mandatory concussion testing protocol and didn’t return to the game.
“We’ll have to see. I’m not sure where he’s at right now,” head coach John Harbaugh said after the 23-17 win. “He obviously didn’t return in the game. His head, we’ll just have to see how that goes.”
The 2012 third-round pick was making his second straight start of the preseason and carried the ball four times for -3 yards against Washington. In three contests this summer, Pierce has gained 89 yards on 21 carries and has made one reception for three years. He has looked lighter and faster this summer after a disappointing 2013 campaign in which he averaged an anemic 2.9 yards per carry.
Pierce indicated on his official Twitter account on Sunday afternoon that he was fine.
“If anyone was wondering, I’m fine,” Pierce wrote.
Pierce has never missed a game in his brief NFL career despite sustaining a concussion late in his rookie season and dealing with other nagging injuries in his first two years. After spending a large portion of the offseason recovering from shoulder surgery, Pierce will have two weeks to recover in time for the season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 7.
In what didn’t come as a major surprise considering Harbaugh had already said the Ravens would focus on giving carries to Pierce as well as reserve running backs Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro on Saturday night, Rice did not play against Washington. It remains unclear if the Ravens will allow Rice to play in Thursday’s game against New Orleans since most starters rarely play in the final preseason tuneup and he’d be running behind the second-string offensive line.
“That was our plan this week [not to play Rice],” Harbaugh said. “Next week, we’ll let you know. You’ll see it when you see it.”
Forsett carried seven times for 30 yards while the rookie Taliaferro carried 11 times for 25 yards.