Street Talk Ray Rice: “I definitely expect to be more involved’

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OWINGS MILLS – Ray Rice isn’t holding a grudge, and he isn’t dwelling on how he wasn’t utilized much during the Baltimore Ravens’ shocking defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And the Pro Bowl running back denied that he was benched, also shooting down speculation that he got into an argument with running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery.

Although he has no plans to lobby offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, Rice expects to be touching the football a lot more in the future after rushing for only 28 yards on eight carries with one lost fumble during the Ravens’ 12-7 road loss Monday night.

“I definitely expect to be more involved,” Rice said. “My involvement with this offense hasn’t changed since the beginning of the season, I don’t want Cam and them to feel like they’ve got to force me the ball. I’m not that kind of guy. My carries come when the whole offense has success. I look forward to having that success.

“We’re not going to ignore the fact it happened. We didn’t execute I don’t want to make it seem like I’m begging for carries. At the same time, I do know when we’re getting first downs I touch the ball.”

It was the fewest yards and carries for Rice since an Oct. 3, 2010 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And his fumble was his first in 522 regular-season touches, a span that led the NFL and marked back to December of 2009.

Rice went a long stretch after not playing and he looked upset on the sideline, but he said it wasn’t because of being benched or any confrontation with Montgomery, who’s known as an easy-going position coach.

“I was just trying to find a groove. I was not taken out,” Rice said. “Me and Wilbert Montgomery did not get into any altercation. I was in those series. We were just trying to find a groove. There was no play-calling issues, there were no issues on the sideline.

“We were just trying to find the answers to move the ball. It had nothing to do with me and the fumble. It had everything to do with us trying to find the answer to get to the next drive.”

Rice’s reduced role in the offense got magnified when outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said he was baffled that Rice didn’t get the ball more, as well as wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

Suggs didn’t change his stance on those issues, but acknowledged he was emotional after the game.

“We were just frustrated," Suggs said. “We have to do the things that we win with. We have a pretty chance of winning when those guys touch the ball. That’s all I really meant by it. You all can take it however way you all want to.

“There’s really no big deal about that. We’re a great team when those guys get the ball. That’s what I meant. We have to take our hats off to Jacksonville. They went out there and they played a very physical game. They won the game, but we can’t give them any help. That’s what I meant by it.”

Added Rice: “He was outspoken about it, but I definitely know that my carries will come when the offense has success. If we’re getting first downs, I’m sure I was going to get my carries. I wasn’t really too concerned about it.”

Still, the Ravens managed to not gain a single first down in the first half. They gained only 16 yards of total offense in the first half, a franchise worst.

Rice has rushed for 426 yards on 97 carries this season, scoring two touchdowns.

And he has caught 26 passes for 337 yards and two scores, easily establishing himself as the Ravens’ most versatile and pivotal offensive player.

“He can run the ball and catch out of the backfield, too,” offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie said. “Definitely, I prefer that we run the ball. You wear them down throughout the course of the game and it slows down the pass rush eventually. I believe we’ll crank things back up. I’m looking forward to getting things going this next game.”

One reason the Ravens abandoned the run was a lack of yardage when they did run the ball on first downs.

“We want to be effective,” center Matt Birk said. “We weren’t effective running the ball, especially on first down. We want to be balanced and not have to tip your hand on if you’re going to run or pass.”

Rice doesn’t have a reputation for fumbling.

And this was an unusual one considering he ran into the back of offensive guard Marshal Yanda during the Ravens’ third possession of the game.

A subsequent fumble by Rice was nullified when an instant replay ruling determined that he was down by contact before losing the football.

“I wasn’t stripped, I ran into the back of a lineman and it came out,” Rice said. “The second time, my knee hit the ground and the ball hit me in the chest. I knew I was down.

“It was frustrating that it happened, but at the same time, I’m a player in this league and I know that ball security hasn’t been an issue for me. I’m looking forward to getting it back next week.”

Rice said he preferred to discuss Sunday’s opponent, the one-win Arizona Cardinals.

And Rice emphasized that he has no intentions of creating any controversies by playing the blame game, preferring to be a unifying force in the locker room.

“I’m going to be one of the guys that brings this offense back together,” Rice said. “I’m not going to be the guy to point fingers. We’re all in this together. We were all there Monday night and we know what happened, we didn’t execute. That’s going to be me getting more carries. Going forward, I’m positive we’ll be more successful.”

 

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson

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