Fitzgerald Toussaint's status last season was anything but comfortable. He was added to the Ravens' active roster and waived twice in the first three weeks of the season, and spent much of the year on the practice squad.

When he became a permanent addition to the active roster on Dec. 13 — he was a back up to running back Justin Forsett for the team's final three regular-season games and in the playoffs — it was just three days after his daughter, Martia, celebrated her eighth birthday.


"It being her birthday just kind of makes me proud," Toussaint, 25, said this summer. "I just think back, it's been eight years. I don't see her that often, so this being my motivation — to support her — me getting added to the roster, and it being [near] her birthday was kind of surprising."

The Michigan product says his daugther is his second-biggest motivator to scrape out a livelihood in the NFL — behind God, and tied with his mother, who raised him and four other siblings on her own in Youngstown, Ohio.He is part of a crowded running back competion behind Forsett as training camp enters its second full week.

Second-year back Lorenzo Taliaferro and rookie Buck Allen have been the top backups in camp, leaving Toussaint and undrafted rookie Terrence Magee to battle for a spot on the back end of the roster. He's accustomed to adversity, though.

'Mature ... for his age'

Toussaint, whose daughter lives with her mother in South Carolina, was forced to grow up quickly, and not just because he was a young father.. His father, Fitzgerald Toussaint Sr., was arrested for stabbing a man at a football scrimmage while Toussaint was in high school. A DUI arrest as a junior at Michigan cost him the season opener against Alabama.

Forsett, whom Toussaint called a mentor, believes Toussaint's life experience will benefit him.

"He's mature, man, for his age ... He had to grow up really fast," Forsett said. "You know how to fight. You're fighting for your family at an early age. You already know. It's not something new. You're kind of comfortable being in that uncomfortable state. That's what he is. He's a fighter. You see it every day."

Toussaint credits his maturation off the field to his daughter.

"When you're a teenager, you're 20, everybody goes through that selfish stage," he said. "But having a kid that early, it kind of allows you to not focus on yourself a little bit. You have to put away those selfish tendencies, and I was willing to do that. I just knew that I was playing for something bigger than myself and I had to be a role model with my little one."

His mother, whom he said worked as a waitress and pushed him toward earning a scholarship and finishing what became a general studies degree at Michigan, kept him on the right path, too. But as he keeps up with his daughter's life, and vice versa, he realizes the importance of that relationship.

"Every time [she] calls, I don't want her to think I'm out just doing stuff, acting all crazy," Toussaint said. "I just want to know that when she calls here, I'm studying, I'm doing this, I'm getting ready to do something positive so she can know what I'm doing and she can feel good about it."

A self-described homebody who said he gets his focus and disinterest in hobbies from his mother, Toussaint's summer was a balance of father-daughter time and football preparation. He said that between organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, he went to South Carolina to pick up his daughter. While spending time together in Baltimore, Toussaint said they went to a circus at Security Square Mall. Back in Ohio, where he and his daughter spent most of their time between minicamp and training camp, afternoons were spent at the park and evenings were spent at festivals and carnivals.

"Just being able to wake up and be with my daughter was a good thing for me," Toussaint said. "You kind of get some time to reflect on a lot of things, and she's the reason why I go hard every day. To have that time with her and to know that once she leaves, I'm going back to work and working for this is kind of a good thing on the heart to me."

More to prove


To regain his spot on the Ravens' active roster, Toussaint will need to make a bigger impact than in 2014. In four regular-season games, he gained just 12 yards on six rushing attempts and caught three passes for 27 yards.

Coach John Harbaugh said during minicamp that Toussaint looked like an NFL running back. Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said he has done "really well" in training camp.

And throughout his time with the Ravens, Toussaint has appeared to get extra attention and tutoring from associate head coach-special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg, who mentioned Toussaint in the kick and punt return conversation during OTAs.

"I feel like I have to go out there and be a technician on special teams," Toussaint said. "That's what he needs me to do. Whatever he needs me to do, whatever he wants me to do, I'm willing to go out there and do it."

Forsett said Toussaint can surprise people this month.

"I think he does a lot," Forsett said. "He's a guy who can run routes, he can pass protect and he can run the ball.

"It's going to be a tough competition, and I'm sure he's not going to back down."

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