With Ray Rice listed as doubtful for the Baltimore Ravens‘ Week 3 tilt with the Houston Texans, backup running back Bernard Pierce is set to make his first career start. Rice suffered a left hip flexor strain against the Cleveland Browns last week, and while it doesn’t seem like he’ll miss too much time, there’s a small window of opportunity for Pierce’s owners to cash in on the backup.
Since entering the NFL last season, Pierce has proven to be one of the more reliable backup running backs in the game. He owns a 4.9 YPC average on 136 career rushes. His numbers through the first two weeks haven’t been impressive, but watching Pierce play, you get the feeling he’s the type of guy who gets stronger throughout the game. The Texans have a solid run defense, but in line for 20-plus touches, Pierce should still be able to do a nice bit of damage. He only has eight career receptions, but he’s shown good hands and will likely catch a few passes out of the backfield as well.
A lot of people will be quick to point out that although his career number is good, Pierce’s YPC average has been abysmal this season and that there’s no reason to expect that to change this week. But what you have to remember is that it’s not so easy to just come into the game here and there for a few downs at a time and get going right away. It’s nice to be able to get into a rhythm and he should have an opportunity to do that against the Texans.
Things definitely aren’t going to be easy for the Ravens on Sunday. The team has been struggling on both sides of the ball and the Texans aren’t known for being slump-busters. However, Baltimore has always prided itself on being one of the toughest squads in the league and I expect John Harbaugh to remind his guys of that before Sunday’s game. He’s also made it clear that if Rice can’t go, the team is more than ready to let Pierce carry the mail. It’ll be tough sledding, but with a full workload in a game the Ravens badly need to make a statement in, I’m expecting a solid performance out of him.
If you need a RB2 this week, start Pierce with confidence.