Baltimore Ravens offseason roster review: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen battle for backup RB spot

This is the second part of the offseason series that is focusing on the Baltimore Ravens' position groups as they begin organized team activities this week. This post will look at the Ravens' running backs.

Returning: RB Justin Forsett*, FB Kyle Juszczyk*, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, FB Kiero Small (practice squad)

Newcomers: RB Buck Allen (fourth-round pick), RB Terrence Magee (undrafted rookie)

Departures: Bernard Pierce (waived, picked up by Jaguars)

Roster spots likely available: Likely four

Competition: Taliaferro vs. Allen for the No. 2 spot. The primary backup to Forsett will be a major storyline throughout the offseason and the preseason. Pierce, the No. 2 back for the last three seasons, was cut after an embarrassing drunken driving arrest and he wasn't guaranteed to hold that job again anyway after back-to-back disappointing seasons. The Ravens' top options are two young backs who were drafted in the fourth round but bring different styles. Taliaferro, a fourth-rounder from a year ago, is a big back who is suited for short yardage and the red zone. He gained 292 yards rushing last season as a rookie, including 91 yards against the Browns, before suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 14. Allen, the 10th running back drafted this year, has more elusiveness and was one of the top pass-catching backs in college last season. This could end up to be a situation where the Ravens ask Taliaferro and Allen to share the role.

Outlook: Forsett is the unquestioned starter after a top running back like Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon failed to slide to the Ravens in the first round. He was the Ravens' Most Valuable Player last season, replacing Ray Rice to finish No. 5 in the NFL in rushing. The Ravens re-signed Forsett this offseason to a team-friendly contract that could end up being a one-year, $3 million deal if he fails to repeat last season's success or a young running back outproduces him. The Ravens are expected to keep the same zone-blocking scheme even though Marc Trestman replaced Gary Kubiak as the offensive coordinator. That's good news for Forsett. It would be better news if the Ravens can spell him more this year. Forsett looked like he wore down at times in the regular season and then played 79 percent of the offensive snaps in the playoffs. That's why it is important for Taliaferro and Allen to step up. Juszczyk is coming off a season in which he had the second-most snaps among NFL fullbacks.

*Projected starter

Previous offseason reviews: Quarterbacks