Baltimore Ravens

Ravens must lean on Javorius Allen until Danny Woodhead returns

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Baltimore Ravens running back Javorius Allen (37) carries the ball during the NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals on September 10th 2017, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 20-0. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

Javorius Allen is the next man up.

The Baltimore Ravens will have to shift their attention to the third-year running back after losing Danny Woodhead in Week 1 of the season to a hamstring injury. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport is reporting he could miss up to six weeks with the injury.

That time frame could easily be extended considering the unpredictability of hamstring injuries. Even when Woodhead returns, he’ll need some time to get acclimated to playing at full speed. Fortunately for the Ravens, they have another dual-threat option at running back who is capable of filling the void.

Allen, the former fourth-round pick out of USC, has quietly worked his way back into the offense. He posted 514 yards and one touchdown on the ground his rookie season, while also making 45 receptions for 353 yards and two touchdowns. The fact that he had more carries than Terrance West, who was initially projected to be the Ravens’ top option at running back, in the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals demonstrates his increased importance to the offensive backfield.

While Allen has the skill set to serve as a third-down option, there really is no sure-fire replacement for Woodhead if his injury stretches beyond six weeks. He’s easily one of the best receiving backs in the NFL when he’s healthy. In 2015, he led the San Diego Chargers with 80 receptions and 755 receiving yards. The Ravens were hoping he could be as valuable a security blanket to quarterback Joe Flacco as he once was for Philip Rivers and Tom Brady.

“[Woodhead] was somebody that we targeted pretty early in free agency and obviously signed him right out of the gate,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun. “He’s a specific kind of player for us. He’s a very versatile running back. He can carry the ball, but he’s also a big part of the passing game. He’s good in protection, but it’s really the route running, getting open and doing the things that will help Joe and give Joe a great matchup against linebackers and even against safeties in critical situations to help us move the chains.”

The Ravens will try to stick with their run-heavy approach and likely use Allen as the third-down option at tailback. It’s the perfect time to begin preparing Allen for an extended role in the offense, considering Woodhead is 32 years old and has played in only 22 games in the last four seasons.

A full-time opportunity could loom for a part-time contributor.

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