Notebook: Rice hoping Ravens keep McGahee

OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice would like to remove the uncertainty surrounding teammate Willis McGahee. Rice is a strong advocate of the former Pro Bowl runner returning next season as his primary backup. Between Rice and McGahee, they combined for 1,883 rushing yards, 93 receptions and 22 total touchdowns.

While Rice led the team with 1,339 rushing yards and 78 receptions, McGahee contributed 544 yards and 14 scores to tie the franchise record for single-season touchdowns established by Jamal Lewis and Michael Jackson.

"Willis is a guy that I definitely use as a mentor," Rice said. "He's been great to me, a great teammate, a great friend. What he's meant for me is everything. He battled through adversity and is still a great back in this league. I'd definitely love to see him back here."

McGahee has said that he's unsure what the future holds for him in Baltimore are as a player under contract. Due a $3.6 million base salary, McGahee would probably be a salary-cap casualty under normal circumstances.

In the projected uncapped year that's about to unfold, though, he's a luxury the Ravens may be able to afford.

"Willis is a Raven," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

McGahee rushed for a career-high 167 yards and three touchdowns in the regular-season finale against the Oakland Raiders to boost the Ravens into the playoffs.

And he provided a consistent red-zone presence all season with a dozen touchdown runs.

Between Rice, McGahee and Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain, the Ravens built the NFL's fifth-ranked running game.

"He's a great back and what you can see is we're different backs," Rice said. "You can see that when we're both rolling, we're tough to stop. I see us as a tandem, and we can give a lot of defenses problems just because of his style of running and my style of running."

NOTES: The Ravens will be sending a large contingent of coaches, scouts and executives to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., next week. "There is a benefit in standing on the sideline and watching an inside run drill and seeing how a player really competes, just kind of feeling the player," Harbaugh said. "A defensive back in a one-on-one drill, a wide receiver in a one-on-one drill, when you're on that sideline that close to them, you have a little better sense maybe than you would have on tape. So, it will be a plus for us." … Harbaugh said that he'll be actively involved in the scouting process as the Ravens prepare for the April draft. General manager Ozzie Newsome oversees the draft, working closely with the coaches as well as director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, director of college scouting Joe Hortiz and the rest of the personnel department. "Eric DeCosta gets mad at me because I'm always in there demanding more tape," Harbaugh said. "He's got it written on his board: ‘I need more tape, Harbaugh.' We're very involved. To me, it's fun. We've developed this rapport between the scouting department and the coaching department as far as the type of player we want, what we're looking for at each position, how we play defense, how we play offense, special teams, specifics at each position, the kind of player we want. I think our coaches and scouts do a great job dialoguing on that. All of our coaches, all of our scouts watch all of the tape, and then we hash it out. Ultimately, when it comes down to making the call, Ozzie will make that call in the end. But there has not been one draft pick over the last two drafts that we basically disagreed on. There's not one guy that we've said, ‘You know what, you want that guy? I don't want that guy, somebody else.' We have our opinions in there, but, in the end, I think we're all able to say yes to a guy we should pick. And that comes from a lot of work and a lot of communication over the months leading up to the draft." … The Ravens led the NFL with 1,094 penalty yards on 115 penalties, an issue that the team began to clean up some toward the end of the season. "We talk about that every single week," Harbaugh said. "You try to make your team as good as you can make it every single day." The Ravens' opponents were penalized just 88 times for 741 yards… Harbaugh recognized the Baltimore fans' presence in Indianapolis. "When you hear the ‘O!' in Indianapolis as loud as we heard it, I got fired up," he said. "And then in New England and even in Oakland, we had a bunch of fans. I just think it's a fabulous sports city, it's a fabulous fan base. We have got a great bunch of fans." … The Ravens are operating under the belief that there won't be a new collective bargaining agreement brokered between the NFL management council and the players' union. "You go under a set of assumptions right now that there's going to be an uncapped year, and that's how we're moving forward," Harbaugh said. "If something gets resolved, then that's going to get changed, and we've got a contingency plan."


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