Rice, Pierce and a Player to be Named

Lombardi's Way Rice, Pierce and a Player to be Named

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Ozzie Newsome has said it, Steve Bisciotti has said it, John Harbaugh has said it and so has Dennis Pitta.

It’s important for the Ravens to improve their running game.

Talk about a statement of the obvious!

Let’s not belabor the painfully woeful stats from the 2013 season. Instead let’s borrow a line from John Lennon in The Beatles’ Getting Better…

“It can’t get any worse.”

We all know that the coaching staff is hell bent on fixing the offense’s groundless attack. But whom will the Ravens employ to get it done.

It looks like Eugene Monroe will be back. That’s a plus. Marshal Yanda will be healthier. That’s a plus. And word is that Kelechi Osemele is recovering well from back surgery. Another plus!

But who will be the right tackle? Who will be the center?

Ozzie Newsome doesn’t casually toss around team goals and objectives yet he made it very clear at the State of the Ravens presser that the team needs to get bigger and stronger in the middle of the offensive line. I doubt he was talking about KO or Yanda.

However that could mean that KO might bump back out to right tackle and the team could go with a new left guard who may be more economical than a new right tackle.

Still, even after the Ravens reconfigure their offensive line, do they have reliable talent in the backfield to carry the rock?

Ray Rice is seemingly in the witness protection program these days and it’s quite possible that he’ll be looking at a 2 game suspension at some point during the 2014 season. And let’s face it, there are no guarantees that he will return to the Ray Rice form from 2010-2012.

Rice’s backup Bernard Pierce seems to be better as a 10-12 carries per game kind of back instead of a workhorse. His durability has to be a concern particularly after undergoing rotator cuff surgery this offseason.

It is generally assumed that the Ravens will spend a draft pick on a running back sometime during day 2 or 3 of the 2014 NFL Draft. But Ozzie Newsome doesn’t like having need dictated to him during the draft and that could mean that he’ll look to the free agent market for a running back, a position that is quite bearish for players.

Perhaps the most intriguing name among free agents for the Ravens is Ben Tate, an Eastern Shore native who offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is very familiar with. But even in a bearish market Tate might be a little too expensive to be slotted into a part-time role.

Others to keep an eye on could be Donald Brown (Colts) and LaGarrette Blount (Patriots), although you have to wonder if Blount might be out of bounds for the Ravens given their recent rash of off-the-field incidents. Let’s not forget that Bill Belichick had to give Blount a friendly warning when the Patriots traveled to Denver for the AFC Championship Game.

The warning was about Colorado’s tolerance of recreational blunts.

Today should be fun.

Happy New Year NFL!

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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