Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro bolted into the end zone untouched for a pair of touchdowns Sunday in the second half as he provided the majority of the Ravens' big plays offensively during a losing cause.
Although offensive tackle Eugene Monroe was rested for one series when rookie James Hurst replaced him and offensive guard Kelechi Osemele was out briefly with an eye injury, the left side of the Ravens¿ offensive line emerged relatively unscathed during their first game back from knee injuries.
With Ray Rice dismissed, Bernard Pierce battling injuries and inconsistency and Lorenzo Taliaferro being a rookie, Justin Forsett has emerged as the surprise leader of the Ravens' running game. Heading into Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium, Forsett ranks fifth in the NFL with 408 rushing yards and leads the league with an average of 6.4 yards per carry.
The only time reporters typically want to speak with offensive linemen is when things are going bad, like last season when the Ravens had one of the worse running games in the NFL. Times have changed. The Ravens rank in the top 10 in the league in total offense this year.
Four players were sidelined at practice today for the Ravens. The list includes offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week and is expected to miss roughly a month.
All eyes will be on wide receiver Steve Smith, who faces the organization he played with for 13 seasons. While Joe Flacco will undoubtedly look to get Smith the ball early, he needs receivers Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown to be more involved in the passing game.
Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's full-pads practice with a knee/ankle issue, though outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (thigh) and defensive end Chris Canty (knee) were both absent for a second straight day.
That includes cornerback Jimmy Smith (leg), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (groin), rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (knee meniscus), defensive end Chris Canty (calf) and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe (knee).
The former Towson Tiger is focused on the extended opportunity he will have as the featured running back for the upstart Cleveland Browns. That the opportunity comes against a Ravens team he's developed many ties to makes it more special.