Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston rants about the arrest of Ravens running back Bernard Pierce and explains why he should be released from the team. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
When the Ravens cut backup running back Bernard Pierce this week following his driving under the influence arrest, they did so with the knowledge that he was already the likely odd man out in their backfield.
If he hadn't been cut this week, Pierce would have likely been released prior to the start of the regular season later this year.
Pierce had seven carries for six yards in the Ravens' final two regular season games. Undrafted rookie Fitz Toussaint took over some of Pierce's playing time. Pierce had two carries and a touchdown in the Ravens' two playoff games and had fallen on the depth chart.
Even before retaining veteran runner Justin Forsett on a three-year, $9 million contract, the Ravens were making plans to bolster the running back position. They've scheduled visits with Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Indiana running back Tevin "Rock" Coleman. They met with Minnesota running back David Cobb and Northern Iowa running back David Johnson at the Senior Bowl and NFL scouting combine.
The Ravens are still expected to draft a running back within the first few rounds of the NFL draft.
They are also expected to give Lorenzo Taliaferro a long look after a solid rookie season that ended with a foot injury. Taliaferro displayed potential last year as a rookie, rushing for 292 yards and four touchdowns.
Between Forsett, Taliaferro and a rookie draft pick and maintaining the zone blocking system that proved effective last season, the Ravens' running game should be in good shape heading into next season.
As for Pierce, he gets a fresh start in Jacksonville and could emerge in a prominent role among a group of backs that includes Toby Gerhart, Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson.
Despite Pierce's legal troubles, being cut just accelerated him landing in a better individual football situation. The former third-round draft pick from Temple never built on an encouraging rookie season that sparked talk of him splitting the carries with Ray Rice.
Now, the Ravens' backfield is led by Forsett after he transformed himself from a journeyman.