When Ravens rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro lined up in the backfield Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers, it was a relief for him to finally be able to lower his shoulder and crash through tacklers.
During practice sessions, there's only so much live hitting. So, Taliaferro was excited to get to run the football without restrictions during a 23-3 preseason win in which he rushed for a game-high 71 yards on 13 carries.
“It’s always better when you’re live because a guy my size, that’s all they speak about is, 'Can you get the ball downhill? Can you go north and south?'" Taliaferro said. "And you can’t really do that too much in practice with contact. So, it felt good to just get it downhill.”
The fourth-round draft pick from Coastal Carolina had a long run of 12 yards as well as a pair of 10-yard carries.
Named the Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year last season, the 6-foot, 226-pounder rushed for 1,729 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Taliaferro, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, excelled at Coastal Carolina in a multifaceted role.
“The thing that stood out to us the most was how versatile Lorenzo was,” Coastal Carolina offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude told The Baltimore Sun this spring. “He could run between the tackles with power and catch the ball. He’s got very good linear speed for a guy that size.
"Once he turns the corner, little guys bounce off of him or jump on his back, and he carries them. He’s a 230-pound guy who’s tough and stood his ground. He was a guy who could stay on the field and do whatever we needed him to do. He was a lead blocker in two-back sets. He was great to coach."
As a taller back, Taliaferro is constantly working on trying to lower his pad level and has more of a natural upright running style.
Taliaferro looked comfortable running behind the Ravens' zone-blocking schemes Thursday night.
“Yes, it definitely fits my style," Taliaferro said. "In college, it was zone, but it was out of the shotgun because we were running spread so I’m used to the zone scheme.”