With Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice not practicing so far this week because of a strained left hip flexor, backup Bernard Pierce is preparing to make his first NFL start Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Rice is regarded as a potential game-time decision.
Pierce had a career-high 19 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown in a 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns. And the Ravens have confidence in Pierce, a 6 foot, 218-pounder whose bruising approach represents a contrast to Rice's elusive style.
"Yeah, he's doing a good job, keeps his head down and works hard," Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda said. "We want to get him the ball as much as we can. We don't know if Ray is playing or not and we'll see how Bernard does."
Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell regards Pierce as a potential workhorse back if he ever becomes a full-time starter.
"I do think he does have that potential," Caldwell said. "He's a skilled back with some power and speed. He's been a guy that runs extremely hard. When you look at our situation right now, he's going to have to carry a little bit more of a load. We fully expect him to step up and do the job."
Pierce rushed for 532 yards and a touchdown as a rookie after being drafted in the third round out of Temple.
"I think the young man playing behind [Rice] is a hell of a player," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We really, really liked him coming out, has done some explosive things for them. We would not expect it to change anything that they do."
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