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Gary Kubiak even keeps Ravens RBs guessing

The Baltimore Ravens have had a different running back lead the team in rushing in each of the first three games of the season.

Who will it be Sunday against the Carolina Panthers?

It could Bernard Pierce, who gained 96 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Or it could be rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, who broke out for 91 yards in Cleveland last Sunday. Or it could be Justin Forsett, who has produced at least 70 yards rushing all three weeks.

Even the Ravens' running backs say they're in the dark when it comes to who is going to get the ball.

"[Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak] doesn't really tell us who's going to go in during the week," Taliaferro said. "In the game, whoever they call and put in, we're all [ready] to step out there and make sure we get the job done."

Kubiak is known for having two-back tandems, whether it's Arian Foster-Ben Tate in Houston or Mike Anderson-Tatum Bell (they each had more than 900 yards rushing in 2005) in Denver. He's outdone himself so far in his first season in Baltimore.

Through three games, the Ravens are the only team in the NFL to have three running backs with over 90 yards rushing. It has resulted in the NFL's No. 8 rushing attack without having one back among the top 12 leading rushers.

"They're all going to play," Kubiak said. "We're going to keep a fresh guy on the field -- that's what we're going to do -- and if we feel like one guy has the hot hand, so to speak, then obviously he's going to go back out. I want them all to prepare as if they're starting."

All three backs have their own strengths. Pierce runs in between the tackles, Forsett hits the edges and Taliaferro pushes piles as a physical downhill runner.

"Their running game is very dynamic," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "If you look at the Ravens, all three backs are similar, but they have their own different characteristic style of the way they run. We have to make sure we understand who the back is and then play from there."

Last season, the Ravens had their worst rushing attack in team history. They averaged 83 yards on the ground per game.

This year, the Ravens have been more productive despite cutting Ray Rice, the second-leading rusher in franchise history. They are averaging 137 yards per game -- a 61 percent increase from a season ago.

"I think our guys are running physical," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Our offensive line is getting better and better each week of getting guys down, playing physical, pushing them off the ball, creating the holes for those guys. So, I think we're getting better and better each week. I think [the running game] is here to stay, and it's here to get better. I think we're going to do nothing but improve on that front."