Ravens RB Forsett 'still hungry' after breakthrough season
Now, one Pro Bowl appearance and a 1,529 yards later, Forsett is seeking an encore to the finest of his seven NFL seasons.
''I'm still hungry, still ready to go out and fight,'' the 29-year-old running back said. ''Nothing is given to me.''
Forsett was third on the depth chart last summer behind Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro. All three running backs were prepared to take one step back after incumbent Ray Rice returned from a two-game suspension for domestic violence.
All that changed when a video surfaced in September showing Rice striking his then-fiancee in an elevator. The Ravens immediately released him, and Forsett ultimately proved to be far more adept at running the ball than anyone on the Baltimore roster.
He rushed for a career-high 1,266 yards - more than his previous five seasons combined. Forsett also caught 44 passes for 263 yards and provided solid protection in the pocket for quarterback Joe Flacco.
That earned the 5-foot-8, 195-pound Forsett a three-year, $9 million contract with $3 million guaranteed. He intends to earn every penny of it.
''I got to go out there,'' he said, ''and prove to this organization that they made the right decision in keeping me.''
Before 2014, Forsett's best season was in 2009, when he rushed for 619 yards with Seattle. He started five games for the Seahawks in 2010 - and didn't get another start in the NFL until Week 3 with Baltimore last year.
He took the promotion and ran with it.
Forsett rushed for 111 yards in a win over Tampa Bay in October, rang up 112 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee in November and followed that with 182 yards rushing and two scores in New Orleans. Forsett added two more 100-yard games in the regular season and finished with a 129-yard rushing performance on at New England in the playoffs.
It's not a secret anymore: This guy is good.
''Justin's attitude is that he's not going to surprise everybody,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''People have studied him, they've watched the way he runs, and he's going to have to be that much of a better player than he was last year. But Justin Forsett understands that, and he has worked to make sure that happens.''
Forsett went through a rigorous regiment in California to get in excellent shape coming into camp.
''Bigger, stronger, faster. That was the goal,'' he said.
Seems like Forsett has the right mental approach, too.
''I've seen a lot of things happen in this league, a lot of crazy things,'' he said. ''I'm going on my eighth year, and my mindset is I don't ever want to be comfortable. As soon as you get comfortable, that's when bad things happen. I've got to go out there and continue to show that I deserve to be here.''
Forsett has already made a good first impression offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, who took over in January after Gary Kubiak left to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos. Trestman found so much to like about Forsett, he didn't know where to start. So the former Chicago Bears head coach picked something that isn't usually measured in numbers.
''He's probably as good as anybody in this league as a pass protector,'' Trestman said. ''I didn't even mention the fact that he can run the football. But when I think of Justin, I see so much of the man he is outside the game: his level of emotional intelligence, his football intelligence and his demeanor. It's just a pleasure and a privilege to watch the way he handles himself.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL