OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Many have questioned how effectively he’s been used over the course of the 2012 season, but running back Ray Rice was recognized once again as the Ravens’ best player after being voted team MVP by the local media on Friday.
Rice won the award for the third time in the last four seasons as he accumulated his fourth straight 1,000 yard rushing season. The 25-year-old has run for 1,138 yards — 11th in the NFL — on 254 carries, which projects to be his lowest number of rushing attempts since the 2009 season. He ranks sixth in the league in yards from scrimmage with an average of 107.7 per game.
“Football being such a team sport, it really is a special honor,” Rice said. “Obviously, I look forward to going out there every Sunday — maybe it’s Monday or Thursday — and give it my best.”
In addition to his success as a rusher, Rice has caught 61 passes for 478 yards and a touchdown reception out of the backfield this season.
The fifth-year running back was elected to his third Pro Bowl earlier this week after receiving a new five-year, $40 million contract that included $24 million guaranteed over the summer.
Always a professional, Rice has taken the high road when many would have questioned their workload at times over the last couple seasons and always credits teammates for the successes he’s enjoyed throughout his professional career.
“I give all the credit to my teammates – offensive line, Vonta [Leach], Joe [Flacco] — for everybody being able to push through this season,” Rice said. “[The season is] still going for us. I’m going to make the season a special one, but I’ll take this one. With all the other accolades, I can put them up right now and focus on this week.”
A. Jones wins Good Guy award
In addition to awarding Rice the team MVP, the local media tabbed defensive lineman Arthur Jones as the annual Good Guy winner, which is given to the player considered to be most cooperative with reporters during the season.
Always willing to provide a sound byte or quote about an array of topics, Jones began receiving more media attention with an increased workload this season. The third-year defensive end has collected 4 1/2 sacks and 42 tackles this season.
“I appreciate you guys doing a good job, such a great job on showing the brighter side of me off the field and on the field,” Jones said. “I just appreciate all that you guys do for us. I know that sometimes guys can give you hard times – not do an interview. I just see myself as being a reflection of my parents and [to] treat everyone with respect.”
Jones was a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft.
Harbaugh responds to Reed fine
Asked to react to the $55,000 fine levied on safety Ed Reed for a penalized hit on New York’s Victor Cruz in Week 16, coach John Harbaugh took a diplomatic approach that was careful not to alienate the league or his Pro Bowl defensive back.
Harbaugh had choice words for the NFL following a $20,000 fine for the Ravens’ failure to include Reed on the injury report earlier this season, but the Baltimore coach elected to take a kinder approach this time around.
“The system is not perfect although the motivation is correct and the idea is right,” Harbaugh said. “It’s still a work in progress. Like I said before, our guys are doing everything they can. I’m really proud of our guys [with] the way that they’ve responded to try to play within the rules and respect player safety. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but they are doing their best.”
Odds & ends
Ron Winter will be Sunday’s referee in Cincinnati. He and his crew worked the Ravens’ Week 10 game against Oakland earlier this season. … The game-day forecast in Cincinnati will be mostly sunny with temperatures in the high 20s, according to Weather.com. … In addition to Reed’s fine, offensive tackle Michael Oher was fined $10,000 for a chop block on Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. … The Ravens have won six consecutive regular-season finales and 10 of their last 12. … Despite firing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron prior to Week 15, the Ravens are 10 points shy of their single-season record of 391 points scored. The mark was set in 2003 and matched in 2009.