Ravens defense prepares for the Bengals' offensive weapons
It was clear that Anthony Allen’s role was changing in the preseason, but going into the final week of the regular season he appears right where he wanted to be all along.
Allen had struggled in pass protection of quarterback Joe Flacco. He had 5 carries in the exhibition opener, didn’t play in the third game and wasn’t very productive with 7 touches in the finale as he was pushed out by rookie running backs Bernard Pierce, Bobby Rainey and Damien Berry.
Allen was among the final cuts, but he has made a comeback of sorts. He outlasted Berry and Rainey, neither of whom took a snap with the Ravens in the regular season and are on injured reserve.
Allen was signed to the practice squad by the Ravens after going unclaimed off waivers, and just before the regular-season opener vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, he was back on the active roster and on the field for 23 plays. Coach John Harbaugh needed him for his value on special teams.
Going into Sunday’s regular-season finale, also against the Bengals, Allen’s role is growing just a little. He has gotten early looks in the offense with coordinator Jim Caldwell calling the shots. Caldwell has been the play-caller for two games after replacing Cam Cameron earlier this month.
“It’s just something that comes up. If they need me in there they throw me in there,” said Allen, a seventh-round draft pick who was the No. 3 back as a rookie last year. “I got to be ready. I got to prepare all week like I’m going to be playing in the game.”
Allen had 4 carries for 13 yards in the opener with Cincinnati, but all of those touches came on the Ravens’ final drive in a game they’d win 44-13.
In last week’s 33-14 win vs. the New York Giants, Allen was on the field for just five offensive snaps but had his first catch of the season for a 5-yard gain.
It came on the Ravens’ first drive, on 3rd and 5 from New York’s 45 as they’d go on to score a touchdown and never look back.
While Allen’s pass-blocking ability on offense has been a weakness, his blocking has helped spring Jacoby Jones for major gains. Jones has three returns for TDs and leads the NFL with a 32.1-yard average and earned his first Pro Bowl selection earlier this week.
Getting more reps on the offense suits Allen just fine because he’s worked up into a lather because of special teams.
“Actually it has me already warmed up for when I got back in at running back,” he said. “I’ve got my pads underneath me. I’ve got some hits under my belt. It actually helps out a little bit.”