As a rookie ranked third on the Ravens’ running backs depth chart, De’Lance Turner does not get much say on when he will play or how many snaps on offense he will get.
The undrafted free agent initially thought he might make his offensive debut in a 27-14 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sept. 23, but he remained on the sideline. Instead, he had to wait until Sunday night’s 26-14 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he carried the ball for four yards in the third quarter and caught a pass from quarterback Joe Flacco for 10 yards in the fourth.
“It just felt unreal being out there for the first time and playing against the Steelers,” Turner, 23, said Wednesday. “I’ve been watching them my whole life growing up. And then getting a reception from Joe Flacco, it’s still just amazing to me, coming from a small town [in McLain, Miss.,] and just achieving my dream of playing in the NFL. It just finally felt real.”
Turner, an Alcorn State product who was promoted from the practice squad Sept. 12 when the team placed running back Kenneth Dixon on injured reserve, has played 48 snaps on special teams, but Sunday marked his first foray on offense when he played four snaps.
“It means a lot,” Turner said of the coaches’ decision. “I’m just trying to build on every week so that they can put me in a little bit more and help the team win and be a factor on offense.”
And Turner was not out there just to run out the clock. His lone rushing attempt occurred with the score tied at 14, and his first catch came with the Ravens leading 20-14.
“It’s not like we were saying, ‘OK, this is their time. Let’s get them their first career catch,’ ” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “It was just more the flow of the game, and when you’re one of the 46 players up, you’re a starter. At any point in time, you’ve just got to go in there and play and perform, and that’s kind of how it happens.”
Turner said he is not sure about his role for Sunday’s game at the Cleveland Browns, but if he gets on the field, his objective is simple.
“I just want to make explosive plays and be a game-changer,” said Turner, who finished the preseason with 22 carries for 159 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown run at the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 25. “If I get my hands on the ball, I’m trying to score.”