Thursday, August 16, 2012
Ray Rice is last back standing in division
By Jamison Hensley
During a recent training camp practice, Ravens running back Ray Rice playfully started to box fullback Vonta Leach on the sideline. That exchange sticks out right as the AFC North teams prepare to play their second preseason games because Rice is the last starting running back left standing in the division.
The Bengals aren't expected to have starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis (foot) and backup Bernard Scott (hand) at Atlanta on Thursday night. Third-down back Brian Leonard and special teams player Cedric Peerman should receive a bulk of the carries.
The Browns are without rookie first-round pick Trent Richardson for another week after he had arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 9. Backup Montario Hardesty, who had 16 yards on four carries in the preseason opener, will get his second start.
The latest starting back in the division to go down with an injury is the Steelers' Isaac Redman, who said he has an MRI scheduled for Thursday morning and that was before he was unable to finish Wednesday's practice. With last year's leading rusher (Rashard Mendenhall) and this year's backup (Jonathan Dwyer) both injured, the Steelers will lean heavily on Baron Batch and Chris Rainey until Redman and Dwyer get healthy.
None of the injuries to the starting backs are considered serious. When the season begins in less than four weeks, Green-Ellis, Richardson and Redman are expected to be lining up in the backfield.
Still, the number of injured backs heading into the second preseason game is a troublesome trend for the division. If you're keeping track at home (and add the Steelers John Clay), the number of running backs currently injured in the AFC North is seven.