With Ray Rice parked on the sideline in street clothes after suffering a hip injury last weekend, Bernard Pierce made his first NFL start Sunday against the Houston Texans. Predictably, it was his busiest afternoon to date.
Pierce was on the field for 50 of the team's 63 offensive snaps, the most he has played in a game in his two seasons in the league. He had 24 carries, one more than the entire Texans backfield, and rushed for 65 yards and one goal-line touchdown. Pierce also caught both passes that Joe Flacco threw his way for seven yards.
Fellow running back Shaun Draughn made his Ravens debut against the Texans, playing nine offensive snaps and carrying the ball four times for two yards. Fullback Vonta Leach had eight yards on three carries while playing 29 snaps, many of which came as the Ravens ran down the clock with Pierce in the fourth quarter.
Here are other observations from the official snap counts:
--- Backup nose tackle Terrence Cody sprained his left knee in the first quarter of the 30-9 win and was knocked out of the game after playing four snaps. That left the Ravens with just four healthy defensive linemen, as Chris Canty and Brandon Williams missed the game due to their own injuries. Starting nose tackle Haloti Ngata ended up playing 53 of the 65 defensive snaps. Defensive end Marcus Spears played 35 and defensive tackle Arthur Jones played 33. DeAngelo Tyson played 15, his highest snap count of the season.
--- Backup wide receivers Tandon Doss and Brandon Stokley played the same number of snaps Sunday, getting 17 apiece. Stokley had gotten seven more than Doss in the win over the Cleveland Browns last week. Torrey Smith sat out just two snaps against the Texans and Marlon Brown, the other starter at wide receiver, played 49 of the 63 offensive snaps.
--- The playing time was split almost evenly between the team’s top two tight ends. Ed Dickson played 35 snaps, many of them as a blocker, and Dallas Clark played 28, many of them as a receiver. Blocking tight end Billy Bajema played 15 snaps, most of them coming when the Ravens kept their 22 personnel in the game to run the ball in the final quarter.
--- Cornerback Jimmy Smith and free safety Matt Elam remained starters in the team's base personnel for a second straight game and they played every defensive snap. So did strong safety James Ihedigbo and cornerback Lardarius Webb, another encouraging sign for a player who tore his ACL last season. Third cornerback Corey Graham played 30 snaps and backup safety Michael Huff played 19 snaps as the Ravens at times used three safeties in their sub package.
--- Middle linebacker Daryl Smith again played every snap. He and Ihedigbo are the only Ravens defenders who have not sat out a snap this season. Weak-side linebacker Josh Bynes played 43 snaps. And even though rookie Arthur Brown missed the game with a pectoral injury, fourth inside linebacker Albert McClellan still didn’t see the field on defense, as the Ravens used an extra safety instead. On the outside, Terrell Suggs played 53 snaps. Elvis Dumervil played 46. Courtney Upshaw played 40. And Pernell McPhee played 19.
--- For the second straight week, the starting offensive line played every snap. Rookie tackle Rick Wagner received four snaps as the sixth offensive lineman in the heavy package.
--- McClellan, safety Anthony Levine, cornerback Chykie Brown and safety Brynden Trawick each played at least 20 snaps on special teams. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk and linebacker John Simon got 19 apiece.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun