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Ravens running back Bernard Pierce celebrates his second-quarter touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons.
Ravens running back Bernard Pierce celebrates his second-quarter touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

This season hasn't gone exactly as Ravens running back Bernard Pierce had planned.

There was the first-half fumble in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals that resulted in his spending the rest of the game on the bench. There was a quadriceps injury that kept him sidelined for two weeks, the first time in his young NFL career he had to miss a game.

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And now that Pierce is getting closer to 100 percent, he is getting an inconsistent workload as the backup to Justin Forsett, currently fourth in the NFL with 503 rushing yards.

"It's not frustrating," said Pierce, who has rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns on 55 carries. "I went down, missed two weeks, and the two weeks that I was absent, [Forsett] had two great performances. He keeps coming in and performing, week in and week out. You can't take it from him. When my number is called, I just go out there and go."

Pierce had his best and busiest game in Week 2, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, rushing 22 times for 96 yards. But after missing the next two games with the injury, he returned in a backup role to Forsett. Pierce had four carries against the Indianapolis Colts, 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and eight Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Thought to be the clear starter after Ray Rice's release, Pierce said he has no problem with how his situation has played out.

"That's the business of it," he said. "You perform, you play. Like I said, I went down and I was hurt. He stepped up and rose to the occasion."

Pierce has struggled to find holes the past two weeks, averaging only 2.3 yards per carry on 23 attempts. But he's cashed in on opportunities as the goal-line back. He scored on a 4-yard run against the Buccaneers and a 1-yard plunge against the Falcons.

"I'm an up-North boy, so when the temperatures start dropping, it really doesn't affect the way I play at all," said Pierce, a Philadelphia native. "I've been given a couple of opportunities to get in the end zone. I have to capitalize on those opportunities, and I think I did."

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