Adeptly reading holes and making cuts, veteran running back Justin Forsett displayed a natural running style during the Ravens' offseason practices.
Forsett has a lot of advanced knowledge about new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's playbook through their background together with the Houston Texans.
Slated for a reserve role, Forsett could provide value as a third-down back and fill in with the base offense as part of the Ravens' contingency plan if three-time Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice is suspended for the start of the regular season under the NFL personal-conduct policy.
"Definitely, knowledge, hopefully some excitement," Forsett told The Baltimore Sun during the spring when asked what he could bring to the Ravens' offense. "I play with a lot of passion, a lot of energy. Hopefully, I can bring that to the team."
Signed to a one-year, $730,000 contract in March, Forsett is coming off an injury-plagued season with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he played in just nine games and rushed for 31 yards on six carrries before being placed on injured reserve. Last season, he dealt with a stress fracture and a turf toe injury.
While playing for Kubiak with the Texans two seasons ago, Forsett rushed for 374 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown run. The former Cal standout averaged 5.9 yards per carry.
For his career, Forsett,, 28, has gained 1,692 rushing yards and scored eight touchdowns during previous stints with the Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Jaguars and Texans. He's also caught 115 career passes for 850 yards and one touchdown.
During the 2009 season with the Seahawks, Forsett rushed for a career-high 619 yards and four touchdowns and caught 41 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown.
Forsett has operated in the West Coast offense for several seasons and has a comfort level with Kubiak's zone-stretch running plays.
"The zone scheme is all about repetition," Forsett said. "Even though I've been in it for most of my career, you still got to get the reps in. My whole career, I’ve been one of those guys that switched with the zone run scheme.
"I’ve been able to run the outside and inside zone pretty well. A third-down guy most of my career, being able to understand the blitz protections and being able to pick up guys and run routes out of the backfield and out wide.”
The Ravens' running game was one of the worst in the NFL last season, ranking 30th in the league. One of Kubiak's biggest goals is to upgrade the running offense.
"One thing I know about coach Kubiak is we're going to run the football," Forsett said. "So, I'm excited about that. He's no doubt in my mind that we're going to be successful with it."
Given the uncertainty at running back with Rice's situation, Forsett, backup Bernard Pierce and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro all figure into the equation during his potential absence.
"Everybody is going to get a lot of reps," Forsett said. "It's a huge opportunity. You got to be prepared to take it when the opportunity comes. I'm ready to seize the moment when my number is called."
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