Joe Flacco and Ray Rice both came to the Ravens as rookies in 2008. Since then, they’ve had quite the journey, and the fans have had the privilege of watching the highs and lows of both players.
Fortunately for Ravens fans there have been more highs than lows in those five years, as Flacco and Rice put in outstanding work year in and year out.
Rice recently spoke about that work.
“One thing about being here for that long [is] it feels good,” said Rice. “But at the same time, me and Joe Flacco knew what it took, know what kind of work that coach Harbaugh wants us to do. So, the way we work, we don’t have to say much. We just go out there and do it ourselves.”
Rice is maturing and becoming his own man. He, of course, has seen great leadership up close from his friend and mentor Ray Lewis. Although Lewis is gone, Rice is carrying on that leadership role and he feels that Flacco and others (including himself) are the veterans in their own ways.
“Myself, Joe, Terrell [Suggs], Haloti [Ngata], whoever has been here throughout the whole time that coach Harbaugh has been here,” Rice stated. “It kind of takes the pressure off of him, because we know how to work. And when a coach doesn’t have to say anything about the way you’re working, obviously he can focus more on coaching. And that’s something as a veteran team – even though the guys we lost – we’re still a veteran team with guys that know how to work. I think that’s very important, obviously, with me and Joe.”
Because Rice is still so young at 26, it seems strange to call him a veteran. Still, fans have begun to realize that, with #52 gone, it’s now Rice that puts the “Ray” in Raven.
He was recently asked if he feels like a veteran now that he is entering his sixth year.
“No, I’m still young,” he replied. “I’m only 26, but I do feel like the veteran amongst my group. And I’m going into Year Six at running back, and I’m looking down and the guy behind me is in Year Two, and then I can just keep going down the line. So, it does feel a little bit like, ‘You know what? When I do talk now, they will listen.’”
Despite Rice shunning the label of “veteran,” it is obvious that the young man is maturing and becoming a leader. Rice may be one of the shorter guys on the field, but his heart and passion makes him stand higher than so many others.