Rookie running back Bernard Pierce is starting to emerge as a more important figure in the Ravens' offense, providing a complementary presence to Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice.
Pierce rushed for 34 yards on nine carries in a 16-13 overtime win over the San Diego Chargers, including an 18-yard scamper.
Over the past four games since not having a carry in a loss to the Houston Texans, Pierce has 28 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown.
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Now, the third-round draft pick from Temple is hoping to earn more carries as he continues to gain more knowledge of the playbook.
"I'm starting to gain more trust with the coaches and the players," said Pierce, who has rushed for
213 yards and a touchdown on 51 carries this season. "Once I get a groove going, I feel comfortable. I can't wait to be able to learn more than I already know. Once I get it down, it will be easier."
Pierce, who rushed for 3,570 career yards and 53 touchdowns in college, is averaging 4.2 yards per carry. His season-highs are 48 yards on six carries and a long run of 21 yards on Sept. 27 against hte Cleveland Browns.
Against the Chargers, Pierce was stuffed for a loss of two yards in a 4th-and-1 situation in the third quarter.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked this week why Rice didn't get the call on that play rather than the
6-foot, 218-pound Pierce.
"I like Bernard Pierce," Harbaugh said. "Bernard Pierce is a really good player. We're not going to shy away from Bernard Pierce carrying the ball. I'd like to see him carry the ball more and more.
"I think those two guys complement each other really well. The better Bernard gets, the more he's going to play. Powerful, explosive, hard-running guy, he's a good choice for that."