Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has expressed a desire to have the club’s running game in high gear during this coming season, and to do that the Ravens need to have someone take the heat off No. 1 back Ray Rice.
The best way to develop a power running game is to utilize a fullback in the offense, someone who can block for Rice so he doesn’t take as many hits. Le’Ron McClain held that role last season, while veteran back Willis McGahee also got his share of the carries to keep Rice fresh.
McClain is a free agent this year and probably won’t be retained by the Ravens, so another fullback is needed. Some believe the Ravens should sign a veteran free agent, but it will be difficult to replace a two-time Pro-Bowler like McClain.
Anthony Allen, the Ravens’ seventh-round pick from Georgia Tech, has the size to fill that role at 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds. But he played in the triple-option in college and would have to improve his technique to be effective.
McClain actually led the Ravens in rushing with 902 yards in 2008, but his production dropped off the past two years due to injuries and a change in philosophy by the Ravens’ offensive staff. McClain tallied 46 carries for 180 yards and just 28 carries for 85 yards last year, his fourth in the NFL.
In a March conference call for season-ticket holders that also included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Harbaugh believed a large, physical, blocking fullback would be a good addition to the Ravens no matter what happens with McClain during free agency.
The Ravens already have signed 5-foot-11, 247-pound fullback Jason McKie during the offseason from Chicago, before the current lockout, so he and Allen could compete for the fullback-blocking role if no other moves are made.