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Ravens running back Justin Forsett prepping for pass-catching role in Marc Trestman's offense

Ravens running back Justin Forsett became known for his darting, hard-nosed running style during a breakthrough season last year.

Named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after rushing for a career-high 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns, Forsett also caught 44 passes for 263 yards.

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Under new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, Forsett could emerge as even more of a pass-catching threat out of the backfield.

With Trestman as head coach of the Chicago Bears the past two seasons, star running back Matt Forte caught 102 passes for 808 yards and four touchdowns last season and 74 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.

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"I'm excited about that, being used more, going out wide or catching passes out of the backfield," said Forsett, who signed a three-year, $9 million contract this offseason. "With coach Trestman coming in, a lot of his backs have had a lot of passes. I've been catching a lot of balls, so I make sure I am sharp on my routes and ready to be used that way, as well."

No NFL running back caught as many passes as the versatile Forte during the past two seasons. Forsett could be used similarly, as could fullback Kyle Juszczyk and rookie running back Buck Allen, who caught 41 passes for 458 yards and a touchdown at USC last season.

"We never really talked about whether it will be increased or decreased or how it compares to last year, but obviously, it's a part of it; it always has been," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's a part of this offense anyway. Whether they are checkdowns or play-action passes, those guys have always been a part of it.

"We try to put those guys in position as receivers, too, with Kyle more than Justin last year. But Justin lined up outside the formation as well, at times. That will be a part of what we're doing. It'll be a big part of it."

Forsett has caught 159 passes for 1,113 yards and one touchdown in his career. That includes catching 41 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown in 2009 with the Seattle Seahawks.

"I've always been used that way, other than last year," Forsett said. "That's how I got my start was being the third-down guy, picking up blitzes, running routes out of the backfield, screens and things like that. So, I'm ready for it."

Forsett said he hasn't had to do anything special to prepare.

"Not a focal point," he said. "When we first brought [Trestman] in and he was here, I looked at his track record. Most recently, Forte caught like 100-and-something passes last year, so that kind of let me know that I could be getting a lot more passes than I did last year."

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awilson@baltsun.com

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