Thursday, November 1, 2012
Why Ray Rice has been so hot in Cleveland
By Jamison Hensley
The Ravens have received a lot of criticism for not giving the ball enough to Ray Rice. The running back's track record suggests he should get a larger workload in Cleveland on Sunday.
In four career games in Cleveland, Rice has averaged 134.7 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns. His first game there produced his first 100-yard game (154 yards as a rookie). His last trip there resulted in a career-best 204 yards rushing, which is the fourth-most in franchise history.
Why does Rice enjoy Cleveland so much? His answer might surprise you. "I love playing on grass," Rice said. "It’s a little different surface. Obviously, when you’re cutting, you get better traction on the turf. Any running back will tell you on grass you can’t over pursue as much, because the cutting is different on that grass, and obviously, on a wet field it’s really a lot different. We just went out there and ran the ball really well last year, but that’s last year."
It could also be the fact that Cleveland has struggled for so long on run defense. The Browns have ranked in the bottom six in the league against the run for the past eight years. This year, Cleveland has the 24th-ranked run defense.
Of course, the Ravens have to give the ball to Rice for him to be effective. Rice hasn't carried the ball more than 20 times in a game this season and received a season-low nine carries in Baltimore's last game. In four games in Cleveland, Rice has never had fewer than 20 carries.
"I know where I am most effective. That 20-to-25 touch range is usually pretty good, but we know there’s only one football to go around," Rice said. "With the talent that we have on our offense, the more and more we are capable of using everyone, the better we’ll be. Obviously, this is the healthiest I’ve felt in a while -- obviously, coming off the bye and doing the right things to take care of my body. I’m looking forward to a nice workload the second half of the season.”