Bernard Pierce returned to practice for the first time this week and after Thursday’s session, the rookie running back declared himself and his injured right knee ready for the Ravens’ road game against the Denver Broncos in Saturday’s AFC Divisional playoff round.
“I’m good,” he said. “I’m ready to go. I’m ready to go to war with my guys.”
Pierce’s availability could be significant for the Ravens. He has led the team in rushing in each of the last three contests, culminating with a 13-carry, 103-yard performance in last Sunday’s 24-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wildcard round.
Pierce said he injured his knee sometime in the second half, but it didn’t appear to hobble him when he rushed 43 yards off right tackle that the offense later converted into an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Despite sitting out Tuesday and Wednesday’s practices, Pierce said he wasn’t alarmed by the knee injury.
“I had no concerns honestly because I was just trying to get healthy as fast as possible, and I knew that sooner or later, I was going to be healthy and get back on the field and start practicing,” he said. “And once I started practicing, there’s other things you can do to just get ready and be able to tolerate pain throughout the game.”
A two-pronged rushing attack with starter Ray Rice and Pierce could chew up time and keep quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense on the sideline for an extended period of time. That’s why Pierce said he has no intention of missing Saturday’s contest.
“If I’m even able, I’m going,” he said. “I didn’t come all this way just to sit back and watch.”
Pierce was listed as limited on Thursday’s injury report, as were fullback Vonta Leach (knee and ankle), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), wide receiver David Reed (thigh) and wide receiver Torrey Smith (back). Offensive guard Jah Reid (toe) was the only player who did not participate.
Twelve Ravens, including linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed, were listed as full participants.