Anthony Allen spent most of his rookie season watching from the sidelines. In practice, he was behind Ray Rice and Ricky Williams in the pecking order for carries. And on game days, he was usually in street clothes. But with Rice in a contract negotiation and Williams in retirement, Allen enjoyed his opportunity this spring.
The 23-year-old spent most of organized team activities and this week’s three-day mandatory minicamp with the first-team offense. The Ravens say they are comfortable with Anthony Allen and two other young running backs, Bernard Pierce and Damien Berry, providing depth behind Rice when he eventually returns, but they could always sign a veteran before training camp. Either way, Allen feels these past few weeks were valuable.
“It’s growing process. It’s one thing being in the meeting room and learning things on the board, but it’s nothing like coming out here and doing it at full speed,” Allen said Thursday. “It was definitely beneficial for me to get these reps with the ones because the speed of the game is much faster than it is with the twos.”
Allen was inactive for the team’s final 13 games last season, including playoffs. And he touched the ball in just one of the five games in which he played, rushing for eight yards on three carries against theSt. Louis Rams. But he averaged 6.8 yards per carry during the preseason, picking up 75 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Listed at 6-0 and 230 pounds, Allen could have the combination size and power needed to replace Williams as the Ravens’ power back, and he appears to have toned up a bit since he arrived in Baltimore as a rookie.
He told me that he understands his role as a backup to Rice and he feels his skill set complements Rice well, but he also talked about rounding out his game, saying that like Rice, he will need to do a little of everything.
As I wrote yesterday, it’s difficult to evaluate the running backs during the spring due to the lack of tackling and the decreased physicality while the linemen battle in the trenches. We will have to wait until next month’s training camp to get a true feel for whether the Ravens can trust Allen and company to back up Rice.
Even though Rice, who has not signed his franchise tender, has been noticeably absent from the practice field this spring, he is still in Allen’s ear. He says Rice, who took him under his wing last season, is staying in touch.
“I talk to Ray all of the time. I formed a relationship with Ray last year, being my rookie year and him being a young guy and me being a young guy, he wanted to help me out, especially because I played against him when I was at Louisville and he was at Rutgers in the Big East,” said Allen, who later transferred to Georgia Tech.