Ravens using Rice less, but not that much less

Posted Nov. 02, 2012 @ 2:12 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Ravens RB Ray Rice is on pace to touch the ball less than in any of his other seasons as a starter, but some context is necessary. Rice’s overall utilization through seven games is not that much different than at a similar point a season ago. In 2011, Rice had 115 carries and 49 targets entering Baltimore’s eighth game. This season, he had 106 carries and 45 targets entering Week Nine. That’s a difference of roughly 1.8 touches per game.

“My bet will be that he’ll be, if not leading the league in yards or touches, he’ll be one of the top five, and that’s our plan, because it’s obviously a 16-game season,” Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said leading up to Week Nine.

The Ravens have leaned heaviest on Rice late in the season recently. His highest-carry game in each of those campaigns was in December. Last season, he had 20 or more carries in six of the last seven regular-season games, with the lone exception being a blowout loss at San Diego in which Baltimore fell behind early. He had hit the 20-carry mark only twice prior to that late stretch of games.

The Ravens’ passing game turned heads early this season, but it hasn’t been nearly as sharp on the road. Moreover, the Ravens have had some passing issues late in recent campaigns. In theory, not overworking Rice now gives the Ravens the flexibility to be a little more of a ground-and-pound attack later in the season if needed.