Damien Berry Vying For Number 2 Runningback Spot

The Ravens didn’t expect to have to worry about finding a backup for running back Ray Rice in 2012.

They signed Ricky Williams to a two-year deal less than a year ago, and after he rushed for more than 400 yards in 2011, he said in late January that he was excited to come back for another year.

But within days, he reversed field and announced his retirement.

Rice, of course, hasn’t practiced with the team this spring as he seeks a longterm contract, but there are $7.7 million reasons why he eventually will rejoin his teammates and play in 2012. And likewise, the Ravens will settle on a replacement for Williams.

Here are the candidates:

+ Bernard Pierce – The rookie from Temple became the presumptive favorite when the Ravens made him their third-round pick in the 2012 draft. They expect players drafted that high to contribute if possible, and a backup role could be a nice fit. He didn’t stand out in the OTAs or minicamps, and missed a little time with a tweaked hamstring. Whether he can contribute immediately remains to be seen.

+ Anthony Allen – The team’s 2011 seventh-round pick had some nice moments in the spring practices open to the media. He is big and strong and everyone from the coaches to Joe Flacco have done nothing but praise him. But what can he do with a chance?

+ Damien Berry – After spending 2011 on the Ravens’ practice squad, the former undrafted free agent from Miami did as much as any player to improve himself, getting noticeably stronger to go along with his quickness. But he is going to have to perform really well to vault past a pair of draft picks.

+ Free agent – If the Ravens don’t like what they see from any of the above youngsters, they could sign a veteran with a track record such as Cedric Benson, who gained a thousand yards for Cincinnati last year but remains unsigned.

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