I know Rice is still under his 5yr/$35m contract(which is about half way through) but I see a possibility for Bernard to really step up and not just grab more touches from Rice this year, but allow Rice to also save his body by then being used as more of utility player in the run/pass scheme rather than a full time back. Here are some points:
1. With Kubiak coming in with his zone scheme, this should provide our run game with a serious boost. Having Juan still on board, even though it was a bright spot last year, could really explode when you add juans knowledge of the zone run with Kubiaks.
2. The similarities between Kubiaks old RB in Foster and our own Bernard Pierce is one to take notice of as well. Similar in size and speed( Bernard being a little faster and Foster being slightly heavier), they also have matching running styles as seen in the videos below:
that similarity in running styles, along with a potentially heavier Oline in 2014 will provide a lot of opportunity for Bernard to snatch snaps away from Rice. The two only real issues Bernard still has which may keep him from the starting role would be his receiving ability and pass blocking, both can be corrected by this offseason.
3. Alot of Bernards opportunity may also come this year due to certain stipulations in Rices 5yr-$35M contract, As described in the link below:
4.Lastly, being able to save money on Rice, as well as save him for years to come by putting Bernard in the forefront for carries just about completes Johns want in having every type of back available. As in a previous conference, John mentioned having as many backs as possible with as many different skills sets as possible and with Bernard being the one-cut balanced speed/power back, Rice being the quick/speedster/receiving back, they are only missing one more piece to the puzzle, a power back. For that, I believe Andre Williams from Boston College(slated to go in the early part of the 4th round). I would think one or even two of our compensatory picks that we get this year could help get us in position to get him, he would be a huge help in goal line runs and can really push the pile:
You add all these elements together and you dont just get an awesome running attack but more years on Rices career, Bernard getting more touches, and a monster power back getting the needed short yardage, and we havent even talked about Torrey and how they are gonna help out. What say you Ravens nation?