Whenever the Ravens' running backs are in doubt about the nuances of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's playbook, they can always refer to the equivalent of a human cheat sheet.

That comes from the presence of veteran running back Justin Forsett, who provides familiarity with the Ravens' revamped offense from his background playing for Kubiak with the Houston Texans. Forsett is regarded as having advanced knowledge about the details of the zone-stretch running play that represents the heart of the Kubiak system.

"The guys ask me any questions about any wrinkles or anomalies," Forsett said. "I try to break it all down for them. I've been in this offense for a while now. I just want to stay sharp and not miss any opportunities."

Forsett has made some impressive cuts in the open field, eluding defenders since joining the Ravens this spring via a one-year, $730,000 contract. Forsett has also displayed sound hands out of the backfield and could figure into the Ravens' plans as a third-down back and a change of pace on first downs.

The 5-foot-8, 197-pounder could prove especially valuable early in the season when star running back Ray Rice will miss the first two games while serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy.

"Definitely, we all are going to be ready to pitch in," Forsett said. "We have a good group of guys. We have a lot of talent and we're excited to put it all together."

When Forsett was with the Texans two seasons ago, the diminutive former Cal standout rushed for 374 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown run. The 28-year-old averaged 5.9 yards per carry that season.

Last year, though, Forsett dealt with a stress fracture and turf toe injury and was limited to just 31 yards on six carries in nine games before being placed on injured reserve.

So far, his transition to the Ravens' offense has gone smoothly.

"It's going good," said Forsett, who has gained 1,692 career rushing yards and scored eight touchdowns with 115 receptions for 850 yards and one touchdown. "I'm working hard every day, trying to put in this work so I'll be ready to go when the season starts."

awilson@baltsun.com

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