Former NFL fullback Lorenzo Neal blocked for some pretty good running backs in his 16-year NFL career.
Neal-who had stops in New Orleans, New York, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, and this weekend’s opponents in San Diego and Baltimore-also was the driving force behind those backs.
Neal-until his final stop in Baltimore for John Harbaugh’s first season in 2008-blocked for 11 straight 1,000 yard rushers including the likes of Eddie George, Ladanian Tomlinson, Corey Dillon, Warrick Dunn, Adrian Murrell and others.
And watching this game this weekend between his final two teams, the four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro likes what he sees out of this Baltimore Ravens team.
In 2008, Neal was the one constant in the Ravens backfield, blocking for the likes of Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, and Ray Rice.
He told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday that no question this team is a lot better when Ray Rice is the focal point of the offense.
“Ray Rice…this guy’s playing phenomenal ball right now,” Neal said. “He’s one of the best backs in the league. The guy runs hard, and he’s great out of the backfield. He’s got great hands.”
To be balanced, he compared Rice to a back he saw more of in San Diego in current Saints RB Darren Sproles.
“He’s a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger than Darren Sproles,” Neal said. “He’s just an electrifying back. Get the ball in his hands, get him in space, and you’ve got headaches.”
Neal continued with Clark, saying that not only are opposing defensive coordinators suffering from headaches with Ray Rice-the players on the field are suffering from them as well with the bone-crushing hits in Ravens FB Vonta Leach.
Neal said Leach is keeping the fullback position alive with his play in the Ravens backfield.
“He’s a physical guy,” Neal said of Leach. “He wants to get down the field and I like that physcial guy in Vonta Leach and he does a great job.”
“You guys got a great fullback in Vonta Leach…I think he’s the best blocking fullback in the league-bar none.”
Neal is familiar with Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron during their time together in San Diego from 2003-2006, and Neal said that he was sure Cameron wanted to get a fullback like he had with him as a Charger.
“Cam Cameron loves that fullback, and he loves the traditional two-back offense. You’ve got Vonta Leach-a guy who’s a hammerhead…a guy who emulates his game after yours truly,” Neal joked.
Neal said the Ravens have all the tools to make a Super Bowl run this year, but he didn’t lie when he told Clark that the Raves need quarterback Joe Flacco to be on his game and to have consistent performances in the playoffs.
“I think Joe Flacco is a good quarterback. I don’t think Flacco is a great quarterback. When you look at Joe Flacco, you see some inconsistencies.”
“But when he’s on and really on, the guy can throw the ball with the best of them. The guy can throw the ball..he can throw the ball vertically. He throws a great long ball. He’s good with his feet, and he can get out of trouble with his feet.”
“He’s a big time quarterback with a big time arm and Joe Flacco is always going to continue to improve.”
Either way, he’s excited to watch Sunday’s game between two good team in the AFC.
“This is a great matchup especially with the line,” Neal said. “San Diego’s a deadly team and if the Baltimore Ravens come in here underestimating this team, they will go home with a loss and give Pittsburgh hope.”
Much like stopping Ray Rice halts the Ravens’ progress-do the same to Ryan Matthews and the San Diego running game, and you’ve got the Chargers beat.
“They’ve got to shut down Ryan Matthews because the kid’s starting to run,” Neal said. “You got to him often and you got to hit him early, but look for this to be a really good game.”
WNST thanks Lorenzo Neal for joining Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check”! To hear the whole interview, check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault @WNST.net!