Ravens Notebook

Ravens' Rice diplomatic, but says 'five carries isn't going to cut it'

A diplomatic Ray Rice made his point without escalating a controversy triggered by his lack of involvement during the Baltimore Ravens' embarrassing loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Rice broke his silence Wednesday after politely declining interview requests after a game for the first time because of his concern that he would say something out of frustration he would later regret.

Although the former Pro Bowl running back obviously wasn't happy with only touching the football 13 times during a 22-17 loss with only one of his five carries for 27 yards in the second half, a well-prepared Rice said he understood the reasons why he wasn't utilized much with the Ravens trailing on the scoreboard. "I'm never going to be the guy that talks about touches, but obviously we know five carries is not going to cut it," said Rice while sporting the new Baltimore Orioles' cap. "I know five carries is not going to do us any justice, but we found ourselves so deep in the situation that we had to climb our way out. We were looking for answers. Whether it was running or passing, we have to find our way out of a situation. "I always spoke about not getting down in a situation like that to where you have to be in a two-minute offense. The two-minute offense is great, but when you have to take your fullback [Vonta Leach] off the field, who is a Pro Bowl fullback, and not lead him on people, that leads to trouble."

Rice hadn't carried the football this few times since a Dec. 7, 2008 game against the Washington Redskins when he was limited to three rushes during his rookie season when he was the backup to Willis McGahee. The workload equaled the 13 touches Rice got during a 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that mirrored this latest road setback to another losing team where kick returner David Reed fumbled twice and the Ravens were unable to come back despite quarterback Joe Flacco launching a career-high 52 passes. Rice was visibly upset Sunday on the field, on the sideline and in the locker room. Hence, the former Rutgers star decided to keep his thoughts to himself until he was fully calmed down.

"As a professional, you have to sometimes gather your thoughts up," Rice said. "You have to look at a situation before you express yourself, bottled up with emotional thoughts. My reason for not speaking after the game was more frustration on how we lost the game, it had nothing to do with you guys.

"My reason for declining was just not to come out and say something after an emotional loss. That leads to disaster., it leads to trouble. It leads to people pointing fingers, and I'm never going to be that kind of guy. I'm a standup guy about winning and losing. You want to beat the teams that you are supposed to beat, it was one of those situations where they got after us pretty good and it was pretty emotional." Drafted in the second round three years ago, Rice ranks third in total yards from scrimmage in the NFL behind Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson and Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte over the past two seasons with an average of 118.2 yards per contest. He ranks sixth in the NFL in all-purpose yards this season with 1,029 gained on 559 rushing yards and 470 receiving yards. He's equally the Ravens' most explosive offensive weapon.

"We know who our bell cow is on offense," All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Me being here 10 years ago, remembering the same kind of stats with Jamal Lewis, when those stats changed, we never lost another game. Sometimes, those things have to happen to put you in position to understand that's our bell cow. "If that talent right there isn't touching the ball 25-30 times, then you have to question: ‘What are we actually doing balance-wise?' Jamal Lewis was that type of player back in the day. Ray Rice is definitely one of those talents that has to get an offense going." During the Ravens' three losses this season to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks, there's a common thread when it comes to Rice. He only had 13 carries for 43 yards against the Titans, catching five passes for 53 yards and one touchdown.

He dipped to eight carries for 28 yards against the Jaguars with five catches for 35 yards. "Ray Rice is a high-character guy," coach John Harbaugh said. "I think Ray looks at it like, ‘Let's do whatever we need to do to win a game.' And I also think Ray feels like he can be a big part of that, and that's what I want him to think. "That's what he should believe because he's right. The conversations Ray and I have are what we can do to be a better offense, what we can do to run plays better. Ray knows I want to give him the ball, so I don't need to say anything about that." Rice had eight catches for 54 yards in addition to his five rushes in Seattle where his biggest play was a one-yard touchdown to tight end Ed Dickson on a halfback option pass. Rice has averaged 23 total touches during the Ravens' six wins and only 14.6 during their losses.

"I always expect to come out of a game with 20, 25 touches, running and passing," Rice said. "Obviously, the touches were down that game, but it was situational football. I feel like if I get 20-25 touches, we have a great chance of winning that game." Now, the Ravens have fallen to 22nd in the league in rushing offense as they've averaged 99 yards per game. Going back to the 1998 season, they've only ranked that low one other time at the end of the season. "One thing we're going to hang our hats on going forward is establishing the running game," Rice said. "That's what Seattle did, what Jacksonville did. The team that wants to run the ball, no matter the situation, you're going to do it." Flacco defended how the Ravens have used Rice considering the situation in the game, saying he doesn't get the controversy. "It doesn't make sense," Flacco said. "Did you watch the game or didn't watch the game? I understand how our running backs feel. If we were throwing it 10 times I'd be a little upset that I didn't get to put my stamp on the game. But did you see how the game went? We weren't perfect, but we weren't terrible, either. "We moved the ball all game. Things didn't go our way. When you look at the run-pass ratio, watch the football game and you should understand why we threw the ball that many times and why we ran the ball that many times." The Ravens rushed for only 75 yards on 12 carries against Seattle, 67 yards on 25 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers with Rice's 76-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty, 107 yards on 26 carries against the Arizona Cardinals and 34 rushing yards on 12 carries in Jacksonville. "The run game hasn't been stagnant," Rice said. "You take the Pittsburgh game, with the long run, our numbers will be up there with the rest of the NFL and our average, if that run wasn't taken away. Last week, we got away from it because of the situation we were in. "It's not that we haven't been effective. We have been bitten by penalties, we have been bitten by situational football. We have to play smarter football going forward and leave the penalties out. We have to hold onto the ball." The Seahawks stacked the line of scrimmage by walking up an outside linebacker and a strong safety, essentially daring the Ravens to throw. If the Ravens had run the football and Rice got past the first line of defense, he potentially could have broken a long run. Or he could have gotten stuffed, which is what offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was evidently thinking. "As a runner, you want that," Rice said. "When you see a safety down, sometimes it's not the time to get away from it. As a runner, you want to make that guy miss. You take your chances. The great ones do that."

Teams avoiding Ed Reed Ray Lewis didn't practice

OWINGS MILLS - Ed Reed has been unusually quiet for the past eight games. The Baltimore Ravens' All-Pro free safety intercepted Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice to launch the season, but hasn't picked off a pass since that game. According to the official statistics kept by the NFL, Reed hasn't even deflected a pass in the past four games. Is this a byproduct of quarterbacks avoiding the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year? "I've been playing ball, being where I'm supposed to be," Reed said. "They haven't been throwing my way. That's the game plan some teams come with. Plays will come. I'm not worried about that. If me not making the play wins the game, that's fine."

A year ago, Reed led the AFC with eight interceptions. And he has recorded 56 career interceptions, more than anyone in franchise history and more than anyone in the NFL since he entered the league nine years ago. So, Reed believes he's earned enough props from offensive coordinators that they specifically don't design throws in his general direction. "It's a good thing, it's a respect thing," Reed said. "It's never too boring. It happens sometimes. You have to be patient and wait for those plays." Reed forced a fumble against the New York Jets when he sacked quarterback Mark Sanchez, a turnover that linebacker Jameel McClain returned for a touchdown. He has 33 tackles, one sack, the two interceptions and five pass deflections for the season.

The last time Reed knocked down a pass was on Oct. 16 in a win over the Houston Texans. "I'm not worried about a lack of numbers," Reed said. "It comes with the territory of trying to be a great player in the league. It's a respect factor. I welcome them throwing the ball to me, but it's not going to happen all the time. My presence is a big thing also." As a defense, the Ravens haven't had nearly as many big plays lately.

During the opening seven games, they had 25 sacks and 16 turnovers with four touchdowns. Over the past two games, the Ravens have two sacks and two turnovers with none during their 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

"We always emphasize it and our guys do everything they can to create turnovers," coach John Harbaugh said. "You do that through your technique and your responsibility. Sometimes, they come to you and sometimes they don't. You try to create them with hard hits. You try to create them by stripping the ball, especially in the run game but also in the pass game. "You step in front of throws. Sometimes, they throw them to you. It's very important for us to do that. When you don't, you don't step outside the responsibility of the defense to try to create something that's not there and give up a big play. The priority in the pecking order is to get a stop first. If we can get a turnover as we do that, we definitely want to do that."

R. LEWIS SIDELINED: Ravens All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis didn't practice Wednesday due to a foot injury.

However, it's not expected to sideline him for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion) and rookie running back Anthony Allen (hamstring) also didn't practice. Jones was wearing sunglasses in the locker room due to sensitivity to light, a concussion symptom. Reed (shoulder) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee) are not on the injury report after being listed on it last week as probable. Meanwhile, veteran wide receiver Lee Evans remains upbeat about his prospects of returning this week from a left ankle injury that has sidelined him for seven games. "We'll make a determination later in the week," Evans said. "Last week was real positive. So, this week could be even better and I'll have a real shot. You can see how it responds throughout the week.

"I'm optimistic about this week. It has been tough, but you go through different things throughout a season and a career. This is just another obstacle. Hopefully, we're on the tail end of it and we can put it behind us." Evans said he can run and cut at full speed. "I was able to do it last week," Evans said. "That shouldn't change any. Last week was real positive."

And the former Buffalo Bills standout said he's staying sharp mentally. "I'm staying in meetings, staying on top of my game," Evans said. "We'll go out there and I'll know all the terminology." He doesn't expect to be rusty in terms of catching.

"Catching the ball wouldn't be reinventing the wheel for me," Evans said. "That won't be a problem. It would be a matter of just getting reps and making plays when I get a chance." If the Ravens could get Evans back to work in tandem with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, they could suddenly upgrade their receiving corps. "That's a lot of speed on the field," Evans said. "We have a number of different receivers who can do things, so it's a matter of getting guys in position to make plays and making them. I'm optimistic about this week and hopefully it goes well."

Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) was limited, too.

Several players didn't practice for Cincinnati, including: cornerback Adam Jones (groin), tight end Donald Lee (foot), running back Brian Leonard (knee), defensive end Frostee Rucker (knee), safety Gibril Wilson (ankle), cornerback Nate Clements (knee), safety Chris Crocker (knee), defensive end Jonathan Fanene (illness) and wide receiver A.J. Green (knee). The following players were limited for the Bengals: center Kyle Cook (foot), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (hamstring) and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (hamstring).

WORKING HIS WAY BACK: David Reed definitely won't be returning kickoffs this week against the Bengals after fumbling twice against the Seattle Seahawks.A diplomatic Ray Rice made his point without escalating a controversy triggered by his lack of involvement during the Baltimore Ravens' embarrassing loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Rice broke his silence Wednesday after politely declining interview requests after a game for the first time because of his concern that he would say something out of frustration he would later regret.

Although the former Pro Bowl running back obviously wasn't happy with only touching the football 13 times during a 22-17 loss with only one of his five carries for 27 yards in the second half, a well-prepared Rice said he understood the reasons why he wasn't utilized much with the Ravens trailing on the scoreboard. "I'm never going to be the guy that talks about touches, but obviously we know five carries is not going to cut it," said Rice while sporting the new Baltimore Orioles' cap. "I know five carries is not going to do us any justice, but we found ourselves so deep in the situation that we had to climb our way out. We were looking for answers. Whether it was running or passing, we have to find our way out of a situation. "I always spoke about not getting down in a situation like that to where you have to be in a two-minute offense. The two-minute offense is great, but when you have to take your fullback [Vonta Leach] off the field, who is a Pro Bowl fullback, and not lead him on people, that leads to trouble."

Rice hadn't carried the football this few times since a Dec. 7, 2008 game against the Washington Redskins when he was limited to three rushes during his rookie season when he was the backup to Willis McGahee.

The workload equaled the 13 touches Rice got during a 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that mirrored this latest road setback to another losing team where kick returner David Reed fumbled twice and the Ravens were unable to come back despite quarterback Joe Flacco launching a career-high 52 passes.

Rice was visibly upset Sunday on the field, on the sideline and in the locker room. Hence, the former Rutgers star decided to keep his thoughts to himself until he was fully calmed down.

"As a professional, you have to sometimes gather your thoughts up," Rice said. "You have to look at a situation before you express yourself, bottled up with emotional thoughts. My reason for not speaking after the game was more frustration on how we lost the game, it had nothing to do with you guys.

"My reason for declining was just not to come out and say something after an emotional loss. That leads to disaster., it leads to trouble. It leads to people pointing fingers, and I'm never going to be that kind of guy. I'm a standup guy about winning and losing. You want to beat the teams that you are supposed to beat, it was one of those situations where they got after us pretty good and it was pretty emotional."

Drafted in the second round three years ago, Rice ranks third in total yards from scrimmage in the NFL behind Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson and Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte over the past two seasons with an average of 118.2 yards per contest. He ranks sixth in the NFL in all-purpose yards this season with 1,029 gained on 559 rushing yards and 470 receiving yards. He's equally the Ravens' most explosive offensive weapon.

"We know who our bell cow is on offense," All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Me being here 10 years ago, remembering the same kind of stats with Jamal Lewis, when those stats changed, we never lost another game. Sometimes, those things have to happen to put you in position to understand that's our bell cow.

"If that talent right there isn't touching the ball 25-30 times, then you have to question: ‘What are we actually doing balance-wise?' Jamal Lewis was that type of player back in the day. Ray Rice is definitely one of those talents that has to get an offense going." During the Ravens' three losses this season to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks, there's a common thread when it comes to Rice. He only had 13 carries for 43 yards against the Titans, catching five passes for 53 yards and one touchdown.

Rice had eight catches for 54 yards in addition to his five rushes in Seattle where his biggest play was a one-yard touchdown to tight end Ed Dickson on a halfback option pass. Rice has averaged 23 total touches during the Ravens' six wins and only 14.6 during their losses.

"I always expect to come out of a game with 20, 25 touches, running and passing," Rice said. "Obviously, the touches were down that game, but it was situational football. I feel like if I get 20-25 touches, we have a great chance of winning that game." Now, the Ravens have fallen to 22nd in the league in rushing offense as they've averaged 99 yards per game. Going back to the 1998 season, they've only ranked that low one other time at the end of the season.

"One thing we're going to hang our hats on going forward is establishing the running game," Rice said. "That's what Seattle did, what Jacksonville did. The team that wants to run the ball, no matter the situation, you're going to do it." Flacco defended how the Ravens have used Rice considering the situation in the game, saying he doesn't get the controversy. "It doesn't make sense," Flacco said. "Did you watch the game or didn't watch the game? I understand how our running backs feel. If we were throwing it 10 times I'd be a little upset that I didn't get to put my stamp on the game. But did you see how the game went? We weren't perfect, but we weren't terrible, either.

"We moved the ball all game. Things didn't go our way. When you look at the run-pass ratio, watch the football game and you should understand why we threw the ball that many times and why we ran the ball that many times."

The Ravens rushed for only 75 yards on 12 carries against Seattle, 67 yards on 25 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers with Rice's 76-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty, 107 yards on 26 carries against the Arizona Cardinals and 34 rushing yards on 12 carries in Jacksonville.

"The run game hasn't been stagnant," Rice said. "You take the Pittsburgh game, with the long run, our numbers will be up there with the rest of the NFL and our average, if that run wasn't taken away. Last week, we got away from it because of the situation we were in.

"It's not that we haven't been effective. We have been bitten by penalties, we have been bitten by situational football. We have to play smarter football going forward and leave the penalties out. We have to hold onto the ball."

The Seahawks stacked the line of scrimmage by walking up an outside linebacker and a strong safety, essentially daring the Ravens to throw. If the Ravens had run the football and Rice got past the first line of defense, he potentially could have broken a long run. Or he could have gotten stuffed, which is what offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was evidently thinking. "As a runner, you want that," Rice said. "When you see a safety down, sometimes it's not the time to get away from it. As a runner, you want to make that guy miss. You take your chances. The great ones do that."

Teams avoiding Ed Reed Ray Lewis didn't practice

Ed Reed has been unusually quiet for the past eight games.

The Baltimore Ravens' All-Pro free safety intercepted Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice to launch the season, but hasn't picked off a pass since that game. According to the official statistics kept by the NFL, Reed hasn't even deflected a pass in the past four games.

Is this a byproduct of quarterbacks avoiding the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year? "I've been playing ball, being where I'm supposed to be," Reed said. "They haven't been throwing my way. That's the game plan some teams come with. Plays will come. I'm not worried about that. If me not making the play wins the game, that's fine."

A year ago, Reed led the AFC with eight interceptions.

And he has recorded 56 career interceptions, more than anyone in franchise history and more than anyone in the NFL since he entered the league nine years ago.

So, Reed believes he's earned enough props from offensive coordinators that they specifically don't design throws in his general direction. "It's a good thing, it's a respect thing," Reed said. "It's never too boring. It happens sometimes. You have to be patient and wait for those plays."

Reed forced a fumble against the New York Jets when he sacked quarterback Mark Sanchez, a turnover that linebacker Jameel McClain returned for a touchdown.

He has 33 tackles, one sack, the two interceptions and five pass deflections for the season.

The last time Reed knocked down a pass was on Oct. 16 in a win over the Houston Texans. "I'm not worried about a lack of numbers," Reed said. "It comes with the territory of trying to be a great player in the league. It's a respect factor. I welcome them throwing the ball to me, but it's not going to happen all the time. My presence is a big thing also." As a defense, the Ravens haven't had nearly as many big plays lately. During the opening seven games, they had 25 sacks and 16 turnovers with four touchdowns. Over the past two games, the Ravens have two sacks and two turnovers with none during their 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. "We always emphasize it and our guys do everything they can to create turnovers," coach John Harbaugh said. "You do that through your technique and your responsibility. Sometimes, they come to you and sometimes they don't. You try to create them with hard hits. You try to create them by stripping the ball, especially in the run game but also in the pass game. "You step in front of throws. Sometimes, they throw them to you. It's very important for us to do that. When you don't, you don't step outside the responsibility of the defense to try to create something that's not there and give up a big play. The priority in the pecking order is to get a stop first. If we can get a turnover as we do that, we definitely want to do that." R. LEWIS SIDELINED: Ravens All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis didn't practice Wednesday due to a foot injury. However, it's not expected to sideline him for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion) and rookie running back Anthony Allen (hamstring) also didn't practice. Jones was wearing sunglasses in the locker room due to sensitivity to light, a concussion symptom. Reed (shoulder) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee) are not on the injury report after being listed on it last week as probable. Meanwhile, veteran wide receiver Lee Evans remains upbeat about his prospects of returning this week from a left ankle injury that has sidelined him for seven games. "We'll make a determination later in the week," Evans said. "Last week was real positive. So, this week could be even better and I'll have a real shot. You can see how it responds throughout the week. "I'm optimistic about this week. It has been tough, but you go through different things throughout a season and a career. This is just another obstacle. Hopefully, we're on the tail end of it and we can put it behind us." Evans said he can run and cut at full speed. "I was able to do it last week," Evans said. "That shouldn't change any. Last week was real positive." And the former Buffalo Bills standout said he's staying sharp mentally. "I'm staying in meetings, staying on top of my game," Evans said. "We'll go out there and I'll know all the terminology." He doesn't expect to be rusty in terms of catching. "Catching the ball wouldn't be reinventing the wheel for me," Evans said. "That won't be a problem. It would be a matter of just getting reps and making plays when I get a chance." If the Ravens could get Evans back to work in tandem with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, they could suddenly upgrade their receiving corps.

"That's a lot of speed on the field," Evans said. "We have a number of different receivers who can do things, so it's a matter of getting guys in position to make plays and making them. I'm optimistic about this week and hopefully it goes well."

Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) was limited, too.

Several players didn't practice for Cincinnati, including: cornerback Adam Jones (groin), tight end Donald Lee (foot), running back Brian Leonard (knee), defensive end Frostee Rucker (knee), safety Gibril Wilson (ankle), cornerback Nate Clements (knee), safety Chris Crocker (knee), defensive end Jonathan Fanene (illness) and wide receiver A.J. Green (knee).

The following players were limited for the Bengals: center Kyle Cook (foot), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (hamstring) and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (hamstring).

WORKING HIS WAY BACK: David Reed definitely won't be returning kickoffs this week against the Bengals after fumbling twice against the Seattle Seahawks.

However, Reed said he's taking a positive attitude toward proving himself all over again. "I feel good, it's like I'm starting with a new slate," said Reed, who led the NFL with a 29.3 kickoff return average last season as a rookie. "I was at the bottom and now I have to work my way back up to the top. I got to do me."

ROSTER MOVE: Rookie fullback Ryan Mahaffey was signed by the Indianapolis Colts off the Ravens' practice squad. The Ravens replaced him on the practice squad with former fifth-round tight end Davon Drew

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