Posted on 29 December 2013 by WNSTV
Posted on 27 December 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Making final preparations for a critical Week 17 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens remain unsure if starting defensive tackle Arthur Jones will be available.
After missing practice all week while going through the NFL’s concussion protocol, Jones is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. He sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to New England, but the fourth-year lineman has been present in the locker room this week while waiting for his symptoms to subside.
“He’s going through the protocol, and we’ll know more [Friday] afternoon,” coach John Harbaugh said prior to the final injury report being released. “He’s got another round of [tests] this afternoon.”
Jones missed two games in the 2011 season after suffering a concussion, which might explain his slower recovery from this latest occurrence. Should he not be able to play, second-year lineman DeAngelo Tyson would likely receive the bulk of Jones’ work at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot that lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard in the Ravens’ 3-4 base alignment.
Cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) was the only other player absent from Friday’s practice as the second-year defensive back is expected to miss his second straight game. He is listed as doubtful on the final injury report.
Running back Ray Rice (hip), wide receiver Torrey Smith (thigh), linebacker Elvis Dumervil (ankle), and center Gino Gradkowski (knee) were all listed as questionable after each participated in Friday’s practice on a limited basis. However, none are expected to be in any real danger of missing Sunday’s game.
Cincinnati has already ruled out starting cornerback Terence Newman (knee) and reserve defensive lineman Devon Still (back) while listing rookie tight end Tyler Eifert (neck) as doubtful for Sunday’s game. In addition to Eifert, veteran Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) was designated as questionable, leaving the Bengals in a precarious position should neither be able to play.
Starting inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (consussion) was listed as questionable, but the second-year defensive player practiced fully on Friday, a good indication that he will be cleared to play in Sunday’s game.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Scott Green, who officiated the Ravens’ Nov. 3 loss at Cleveland earlier this year.
Sunday’s forecast in Cincinnati calls for temperatures in the mid-40s with a 50-percent chance of rain showers. Winds will average around 12 miles per hour at Paul Brown Stadium.
Here is the final injury report of the week:
DOUBTFUL: CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), C Gradkowski (knee), DT Arthur Jones (concussion), RB Ray Rice (thigh), WR Torrey Smith (thigh)
PROBABLE: LB Albert McClellan (neck)
OUT: CB Terence Newman (knee), DT Devon Still (back)
DOUBTFUL: TE Tyler Eifert (neck)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion), TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring)
PROBABLE: DE Carlos Dunlap (illness), LB James Harrison (concussion), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle), LB Vincent Rey (ankle), TE Alex Smith (concussion), OT Andrew Smith (ankle)
Posted on 26 December 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens say they’ve turned the page from their embarrassing loss to New England last Sunday, but the truth is staring them right in the face.
In addition to their playoff hopes taking a hit, their pride was significantly wounded by the Patriots, who beat them up for 60 minutes at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens simply aren’t used to losing games of that significance in that manner under head coach John Harbaugh, making you wonder how they’ll respond in traveling to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals in a must-win game on Sunday.
This year marks the fourth consecutive time Baltimore will conclude the regular season against the Bengals, who clinched the AFC North title and their third consecutive playoff berth with a win over Minnesota in Week 16. The Ravens will finish their 16-game schedule at Paul Brown Stadium for the third straight year, but the stakes have never been quite like this.
After beating Cincinnati in a 20-17 overtime final in Baltimore earlier this season, the Ravens hope their familiarity and winning mystique will be major assets in trying to top the Bengals while hoping that either Miami or San Diego will fall to give them the No. 6 seed and a sixth consecutive trip to the postseason. However, the Bengals still have eyes on a first-round bye if they can dispose of the Ravens and receive some help from Buffalo against the Patriots.
“We’re used to these guys. They’re a good defense,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “They have been for a few years now. It’s always a good test to play a division opponent, especially in their place. They have a lot to play for; we have a lot to play for. It’s going to be a good game, a good test.”
A good test, indeed, as the Bengals are 7-0 at home on the season and have scored more than 40 points in each of their last four home games. In contrast, Baltimore has scored more than 20 points on the road just twice this season on the way to posting a 2-5 away record.
The Ravens must fight the urge to watch the scoreboard while facing the daunting task of slowing the league’s 10th-ranked offense and moving the ball against the NFL’s fifth-best defense in yards allowed. Given the Bengals’ long history of losing and the Ravens’ great success against them — winning five of the last six meetings — there are reasons to be optimistic that the Ravens will find a way as they often have with their backs against the wall, but it’s still difficult to eliminate the bad taste from last Sunday.
The hard-nosed and winning pedigree that had so many labeling the Ravens as the team no one would want to face in the AFC playoffs just a week ago now appears to be in grave doubt. Losing their grip on a direct path to the postseason, the Ravens can only focus on beating the Bengals on the road like they did two years ago to clinch a division title and first-round bye.
Nothing else really matters if they can’t handle their own business.
“The guys know the scenarios. They’re not living in a vacuum,” Harbaugh said. “They understand what else has to happen. But our job and our task as one single-minded purpose is to win the next game.”
As much as the Ravens will point to their track record in big games, that history came with more-talented teams than this year’s version. Major offensive deficiencies coupled with a good — but not elite — defense won’t breed confidence in being able to defeat one of the AFC’s best teams who has been unbeatable at home this season.
Faced with the prospects of needing a win in the final week of the season for the first time since 2009 to make the playoffs — though that team didn’t need other help that season — the Ravens hope their long-term history repeats itself and their swagger against the Bengals in a critical game will resurface. But the sting of last Sunday is difficult to shake, no matter what the Ravens tell you.
“We take pride in being battle-tested,” running back Ray Rice said. “Last week was last week. If I know this group that’s going to show up Sunday, the group is going to fight until the last whistle until it’s all over. Hopefully, it’s good enough to take care of business.”
Rice out to prove himself next year
The Ravens have rushed for 90 or more yards in three straight games for the first time all season, but their running game won’t avoid a few dubious franchise records for ineptitude.
In addition to their current 3.1 yards per carry average being on pace to shatter the franchise-worst 3.4 mark set in 2006, the Ravens would need to run for 308 yards against the Bengals just to equal the franchise-low 1,589 rushing yards gained in 1997. Running behind an ineffective offensive line all season, three-time Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has gained 645 yards on the ground, his lowest total since his rookie year when he was part of a three-headed attack that included Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee.
A Week 2 hip injury has also hobbled Rice for much of the season, robbing him of his once-dangerous elusiveness. However, the sixth-year back has taken consolation in only missing one game this season despite his poor production.
“From a personal standpoint, [it's] understanding that I played through a lot this year,” Rice said. “I’m just going to get back out there and battle and not worry about what I’ve got to do statistically week-in and week-out. Statistically, I put all of that stuff aside, but personally, I’m glad I was able to overcome some things.”
Rice has heard the doubts and questions about whether he’s reached the downside of his career as he’s averaging 3.1 yards per carry and only 5.6 yards per reception — both career lows — but he’s already vowed to return in 2014 to erase those thoughts.
Averaging just under 4.1 yards per carry over the last three weeks, Rice is now battling a mild quadriceps injury he says is unrelated to the hip flexor strain suffered in Week 2.
“Everything has been great, even for some of the people who say that you lost a step,” said Rice, who reiterated he’s still focused on the remainder of this season. “It’s different when you have an injury that controls things that you’re normally good at doing. I had to battle that this year. I’ll make sure I come back in the best shape, bigger, faster, stronger — whatever you want to call it — to prove myself again that I can still be a premier running back in the NFL.”
The Bengals are allowing 99.8 yards per game on the ground and rank sixth in the NFL in rush defense.
Pees complimentary of Bengals personnel
Posted on 25 December 2013 by Luke Jones
After rearranging their practice schedule to give players the day off on Christmas, the Ravens released an estimated injury report for Wednesday with a Week 17 meeting against the Cincinnati Bengals looming.
Defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion), center Gino Gradkowski (knee), and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) were listed as non-participants. Jones wasn’t present for the viewing portion of Tuesday’s practice as he must go through the NFL’s concussion protocol after leaving Sunday’s loss to New England in the fourth quarter.
Running back Ray Rice (thigh), wide receiver Torrey Smith (hamstring), and linebackers Elvis Dumervil (ankle) and Albert McClellan (neck) were estimated to be limited on Wednesday. Neither Rice nor Smith practiced on Tuesday, and McClellan missed his first game of the season this past Sunday due to a neck injury sustained against Detroit in Week 15.
Though it could have been a simple oversight, the Ravens did not list quarterback Joe Flacco on Wednesday’s report. He confirmed Tuesday that he would once again wear a brace to protect his left knee after he suffered a mild sprain of his medial collateral ligament on Dec. 16.
Meanwhile, the Bengals listed linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion), tight end Tyler Eifert (neck), cornerback Terence Newman (knee), and defensive tackle Devon Still (back) as non-participants on Wednesday.
The Ravens will return to work on Thursday with their three coordinators scheduled to talk at the podium with reporters.
Here is Wednesday’s estimated injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Gino Gradkowski (knee), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), DT Arthur Jones (concussion)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), LB Albert McClellan (neck), RB Ray Rice (thigh), WR Torrey Smith (thigh)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion), TE Tyler Eifert (neck), CB Terence Newman (knee), TE Alex Smith (concussion), DT Devon Still (back)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle), LB Vincent Rey (ankle), OT Andre Smith (ankle)
Posted on 24 December 2013 by Glenn Clark
Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”
It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.
This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.
Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…
(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)
Glenn Clark’s Plays…
5. Joe Flacco pass intended for Dennis Pitta incomplete on 4th & 10 (4th quarter)
4. Jimmy Smith called for 34 yard pass interference after Tom Brady pass intended for Julian Edelman incomplete (1st quarter)
Got everything started.
3. Logan Ryan breaks up Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones on 4th & 3 (3rd quarter)
Questionable decision, more questionable execution.
2. Logan Ryan intercepts Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones after Dont’a Hightower tip (1st quarter)
Didn’t take long to make it 14-0.
1. Ray Rice runs for no gain on 4th & 1 (3rd quarter)
There was no (realistic) coming back from this.
(Continued on Page 2…)
Posted on 22 December 2013 by Glenn Clark
After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show on AM1570 WNST.net.
The Ravens fell to the New England Patriots 41-7 Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.
So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”
Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.
Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”
Glenn Clark’s Slaps…
5. Lardarius Webb
4. Jimmy Smith
3. Michael Oher
2. John Harbaugh
1. Joe Flacco (Two Slaps)
(Continued on Page 2…)
Posted on 22 December 2013 by Luke Jones
BALTIMORE — The Ravens are no strangers to big games with the New England Patriots as the teams meet Sunday for the first time since last January’s AFC Championship with high postseason stakes once again involved.
New England entered Sunday needing only a win or a Miami loss to clinch its fifth straight AFC East division title while the Ravens can punch their ticket to the postseason for the sixth consecutive year with a win and losses by both Miami and San Diego. Of course, the Ravens still have visions for an AFC North championship but need a win or a Cincinnati loss in Week 16 to set up next week’s showdown with the Bengals as a division title game.
Watchful eyes will be on quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice as both are active but were limited in practices this week. During pre-game warmups, Flacco was moving around fairly well while sporting a brace on his left knee and throwing to tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Jacoby Jones.
Rice is dealing with a mild quadriceps injury that forced him out of Wednesday’s practice, but the sixth-year running back downplayed the significance of the ailment earlier in the week. The Patriots are 31st in the NFL in rush defense, so this matchup sets up nicely for Rice and backup Bernard Pierce to have productive days.
Linebacker Elvis Dumervil is active and will play despite being a late addition to the injury report on Friday. Like Flacco and Rice, he was listed as questionable, but the rush specialist will play against the Patriots after being limited in Friday’s practice with a lingering ankle injury.
Tight end Dallas Clark is inactive for the second time in three weeks despite being listed as probable on the final injury report with an illness. He was active against Detroit in Week 15, but the veteran did not play a snap.
The Patriots will be without left tackle Nate Solder (concussion) today after he was downgraded to out Saturday night. As a result, New England is expected to shift veteran left guard Logan Mankins to left tackle as they did last week when Solder suffered his second concussion in as many weeks.
New England wideout Aaron Dobson is active and will provide a 6-foot-3 target in the red zone for a Patriots offense that struggled in that capacity last week in Miami.
Including the playoffs, Sunday marks the seventh time these teams have met in the John Harbaugh era with the Ravens and Patriots splitting the series. Despite Baltimore’s postseason success against quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, New England is 6-1 all-time in the regular season against the Ravens.
Unseasonably warm temperatures reaching the low 70s and a 60-percent chance of rain — with the possibility of a thunderstorm — are in the forecast with winds up to 11 miles per hour for the 4:25 p.m. kickoff.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Ron Winter.
The Ravens will wear purple jerseys with black pants while New England sports white jerseys with dark blue pants.
Here are Sunday’s inactives:
CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
LB Albert McClellan
C Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
TE Dallas Clark
DT Brandon Williams
LT Nate Solder
TE D.J. Williams
LB Dane Fletcher
WR Josh Boyce
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
DT Isaac Sopoaga
DE Jake Bequette
Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium.
Posted on 20 December 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have no doubt that Joe Flacco will be available to play in Sunday’s critical meeting with the New England Patriots, but how effective the quarterback will be remains to be seen.
He along with running back Ray Rice and linebacker Elvis Dumervil were listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week after all three were limited in practice on Friday. Dumervil was a new addition to the injury report as it appears the ankle injury he suffered on Thanksgiving night continues to be an issue.
Flacco practiced on a limited basis for a third consecutive day and he’s only played catch during the media viewing portions of workouts, leaving observers to wonder just how mobile he is after suffering a mild medial collateral ligament sprain in Monday’s win over the Detroit Lions. The sixth-year quarterback will wear a brace on his left knee to protect its stability as the Ravens try to remain in position for a playoff spot in the AFC.
“He looked good. I don’t know if there’s a progression,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He looked pretty much the same all week and he got through all the practices and took his reps. He did well.”
Over the course of Baltimore’s four-game winning streak to elevate their record to 8-6, Flacco has shown good mobility in occasionally taking off to gain yards on the ground and to extend plays by eluding pressure in the pocket. A more-statuesque Flacco would put immense pressure on an offensive line that has been inconsistent in allowing him to be sacked a career-worst 42 times this season.
Flacco has gained 130 yards on 24 rushing attempts this season, averaging a career-high 5.4 yards per carry. Interestingly enough, he is on pace to set a career low in carries despite being so productive when he takes off.
“He’s always been a mobile quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “Go back to his very first game against the Bengals [with a 38-yard touchdown run in 2008]. If you’re saying people don’t take stock of that, they probably haven’t been paying attention. That’s definitely a big part of his game and it’s made a difference for us in a lot of games this year so far.”
Rice practiced for a second straight day as he has nursed a mild quadriceps strain that surfaced on his final run from scrimmage against the Lions. The sixth-year back was a non-participant in Wednesday’s workout but downplayed the significance of the injury and is expected to play.
Acknowledging earlier in the week to the New England media that his early-season hip flexor strain has continued to be an issue, Rice has looked more explosive in recent weeks, making his thigh injury a concerning development for the Ravens.
Harbaugh would not reveal whether Rice’s injury is related to his hip.
“You know I’m not going to get into all that,” Harbaugh said. “He’s on the injury report and that’s what it is. What the injury report says is what it is.”
Dumervil’s status is unclear after he wasn’t listed on the injury report before Friday. Harbaugh was available Friday before the final injury report was released, so it’s unknown whether Dumervil suffered a setback during the workout.
The Ravens’ only other question marks in terms of game-day status are linebacker Albert McClellan (neck) and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring). Neither player practiced all week as Baltimore listed McClellan as questionable and Jackson as doubtful for Sunday’s game. It’s worth noting that McClellan, a key special-teams contributor, missed several weeks of practices earlier in the year without missing a game despite a lingering shoulder issue.
Meanwhile, New England ruled out wide receiver Josh Boyce and listed seven players as questionable, with the most significant concern being left tackle Nate Solder. The offensive lineman suffered his second concussion in as many weeks last Sunday but practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.
Others listed as questionable for New England included rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Alonzo Dennard, and linebacker Brandon Spikes.
After a mild week in terms of any potential trash talk between these teams who’ve met in plenty of meaningful games over the last five years, Patriots safety Devin McCourty provided some bulletin board material to get the Ravens’ attention ahead of Sunday’s game. McCourty acknowledged hating the Ravens “a little bit” and admitted New England clinching its fifth consecutive AFC East title wouldn’t be the only goal on his mind.
“I’ll put it this way: there would be no better feeling than us beating them Sunday and…we eliminate their season right there,” McCourty told Comcast SportsNet New England. “For me and a lot of my teammates, there’d be no better feeling.”
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Ron Winter.
The forecast is calling for unseasonably warm temperatures approach 71 degrees, but there is a 60-percent chance of rain that could include thunderstorms and winds around 20 miles per hour. Of course, it’s just the latest example of unusual weather this season as the Ravens have endured two weather-related delays, high winds, significant snow, and even a tornado warning at different points.
“Thunderstorms go with lightning, so that could be a delay,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “We won’t be surprised if that happens.”
It was also announced Friday that Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy was not fined for his helmet shot delivered just below Flacco’s knee that wasn’t penalized during the game. However, Ravens safety Matt Elam was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness on his hit delivered to a sliding Matthew Stafford.
Here is the final injury report of the week:
OUT: CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), QB Joe Flacco (knee), LB Albert McClellan (neck), RB Ray Rice (thigh)
PROBABLE: TE Dallas Clark (illness), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
OUT: WR Josh Boyce (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Kyle Arrington (groin), CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), LB Dane Fletcher (groin), T Nate Solder (concussion), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
PROBABLE: WR Danny Amendola (groin), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), S Steve Gregory (finger), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), T Will Svitek (ankle), CB Aqib Talib (hip)
Posted on 19 December 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens received good news Thursday with the return to the practice field of running back Ray Rice as they continued preparations for Sunday’s showdown with the New England Patriots.
Rice practiced on a limited basis a day after sitting out with what was listed as a thigh injury. It appears Rice’s day off was more precautionary than anything after he was present for Wednesday’s practice despite being listed as a non-participant on the official injury report.
The sixth-year back felt his quadriceps tighten up slightly during his 19-yard run to close out the 18-16 win over Detroit, which explains why he elected to go down on the play rather than try to score a touchdown. It has been assumed by most observes that Rice simply wanted to run out the clock without giving the ball back to the Lions with under 30 seconds remaining.
Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day as quarterbacks only played stationary catch during the portion of practice open to media on Thursday. The sixth-year quarterback suffered a mild MCL sprain in Monday night’s win over Detroit and will wear a brace on his left knee, but he is fully expected to play.
It remains a mystery how mobile Flacco will be on Sunday with the open portions of practice not revealing much in terms of his movement.
“If they can take the field, they can play,” said offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell on how Flacco’s health could impact Sunday’s game plan. “Obviously, the doctors will make that determination. Joe has been practicing and we fully anticipate he’ll be able to do his job.”
Tight end Dallas Clark was a full participant on Thursday a day after missing practice due to an illness.
Linebacker Albert McClellan (neck) and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) missed their second straight day of practice as the status of both players remains up in the air.
Meanwhile, the Patriots received good news as starting left tackle Nate Solder returned to the practice field on a limited basis after suffering his second concussion in as many weeks in New England’s Week 15 loss at Miami. It remains unclear whether he has been cleared for contact, but his presence at practice paints a more positive picture for his status than many had suggested earlier in the week.
Rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson (foot) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) both practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day, which bodes well for their prospects of returning to game action.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) was limited once again, but head coach Bill Belichick is known as a notorious manipulator of the injury report and the future Hall of Fame signal-caller is not considered to be in any danger of missing Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Asa Jackson (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (neck)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: QB Joe Flacco (knee), RB Ray Rice (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Dallas Clark (illness), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Josh Boyce (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Danny Amendola (groin), CB Kyle Arrington (groin), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), LB Dane Fletcher (groin), S Steve Gregory (finger), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), T Nate Solder (concussion), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Will Svitek (ankle), CB Aqib Talib (hip), WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
Posted on 19 December 2013 by Luke Jones
Running back Ray Rice is experiencing the worst season of his six-year NFL career and acknowledged Wednesday that his early-season hip injury may still be a factor as the Ravens prepare for Sunday’s meeting with the New England Patriots.
After suffering a left hip flexor strain against Cleveland in Week 2, Rice missed his first game since his rookie season but has said several times since that his health was no longer an issue. The 2008 second-round pick is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and has gained 605 yards on 197 carries this season.
Rice did not participate in Wednesday’s practice and was listed as having a thigh injury despite being on the field during the viewing portion of the workout, but he returned on a limited basis on Thursday. He did not appear to be laboring after Monday’s win over the Detroit Lions.
“I’ve been dealing with injuries this year,” Rice said during a conference call with the New England media. “This has been a different year for me. Everybody plays through different things, and my numbers are what they are, but I’m doing what I can do to help my team. The injury I had this year wasn’t something that you just bounce back from and say, ‘Oh, you know I had a hip.’ It is definitely very hard to play through week in and week out. When I look at things like that — statistics — I don’t worry about things [like that]. I’ve proven myself over the years, Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl.”
Rice won’t turn 27 until next month and has three years remaining on a five-year, $35 million contract signed prior to the 2012 season.
It’s clear that Rice won’t be fully healthy again at least until after the season, but he also spoke about his future and how long he plans to play in the NFL. His current contract would expire just before his 30th birthday if the Ravens elected not to move on before then.
“You know it’s always something to think about at the running back position,” Rice said. “I’ll just put it out there — my goal was to make it 10 years in the NFL. Anything after 10, if I can’t do it the way I want to, then it’s something to think about. But, I’m young. I came in the NFL at 21 years old, a young guy, so I’m still young. There’s a lot of football left to be played. With that being said, I have priorities, too. You know I have a young daughter, and you’ve just got to put all that in perspective when you’re going out there week in and week out, especially when you get older in your career.”
It’s unusual to hear a player discuss retirement in such specific terms a few years before the target date, but Rice has been forced to look at the big picture this season in needing to weigh his lack of personal accomplishments against the team’s overall success. His performance this season — which has also been affected by poor offensive line play — doesn’t bode well for the prospects of him being able to play out the duration of his current deal that includes scheduled cap figures of $7.75 million in both 2015 and 2016.
Rice carried 12 times for 56 yards against Detroit, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt in his fourth-highest rushing total of the season.