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As Woodhead's return nears, Ravens' Harbaugh says glut of running backs is ‘good problem’

Danny Woodhead, who has not been seen on the field since injuring his left hamstring in the Ravens' season-opening 20-0 victory at the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10, is scheduled to return to practice as early as Wednesday.

His presence would give the offense five running backs: Woodhead, Alex Collins, Buck Allen, Terrance West, and Bobby Rainey Jr.

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That might seem like a crowded backfield, but coach John Harbaugh said Monday that it's better to have depth than no depth at all.

"Sure, it's always good to have players," he said. "All those guys are all reliable players, so it's a good problem to have."

But the problem is figuring out each player's role. Collins is the starter after becoming the team's first 100-yard rusher in more than a year with his 113-yard outburst in Thursday night's 40-0 thumping of the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium.

Allen, whose 356 rushing yards are second on the offense only to Collins' 478-yard total, is the backup.

Rainey is the primary kick returner with 10 returns for a 31.6-yard average and one touchdown.

West (Towson University, Northwestern High) has missed the past three games because of a left calf injury.

Woodhead was the team's pass-catching threat out of the backfield.

Harbaugh acknowledged that the coaches and front office might have to make a difficult decision or two in the next few weeks.

"It will have to be addressed, whether we can hold on to five running backs or not, assuming Danny is healthy soon and he's out there playing for us," he said. "That will be a decision that will have to be made. That will be like roster-wide type of decisions. We'll have to compare all of our options and try to keep the players that give us the best chance and make us the strongest team."

The Ravens will have at least two weeks before getting to that stage. Harbaugh said Woodhead must practice for two weeks before he can play and the team has three weeks to make a roster move. For now, the first thing is to evaluate Woodhead, who could practice as early as Wednesday.

“This would be the week that he’s eligible to practice,” Harbaugh said. “We’re talking about it now. I think there’s a chance he’ll practice this week to some degree. We’ll see.”

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