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Where’s Willis?

The Ravens have not been utilizing the NFL’s touchdown leader recently.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

Ravens running back Willis McGahee still leads the NFL with seven touchdowns this season, but that is no thanks to his performance in Sunday’s 17-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. 

McGahee had only two touches, one rush for a 2-yard loss and a 4-yard reception. 

Instead, it was Ray Rice that paced the team, in both the receiving and passing games.

Rice tallied 14 carries for 69 yards and seven catches that resulted in 74 yards, including a short grab he took 48 yards to the end zone.

In fact, McGahee has only held the ball 10 times in the past two games.  The Ravens have also lost those contests.

So where has Willis been?

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh cited the difficulty in distributing the football to all three backs, a group that includes fullback Le’Ron McClain, last year’s team leader with 202 attempts for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“We’ve got three guys, and it’s hard to get them all in there at the same time,” Harbaugh said.  “We could run the wishbone, I guess.  They’re going to be in there and we’re going to use all those guys.  If we’re not successful in one week, it’s always going to be [about] who didn’t play or who didn’t get the ball.  And if we are successful, then it’s going to be [about] who didn’t play and who didn’t get the ball.”

My high school – the mighty Charlotte Catholic Cougars – ran the wishbone, and they won back-to-back state championships from 2004-05. 

Now, I’m not saying that will work on the NFL level, but McGahee’s production is undeniable.  He has posted nine scores in the past six contests, dating back to last season’s AFC Championship.

For his part, McGahee pointed to Rice in his post-game comments.

“He was going strong,” McGahee said.  “He had the hot hand, so there was no need to take him out.”

Rice has been getting it done in all phases of the game.  He is currently second in the league with a 114.4-yard average per game entering Week 6.

As far as the rotation goes, Rice deferred to the coaches.

“I think it’s the coach’s decision,” he said.  “I think we’ve both been playing good. I offset Willis, [and] Willis offsets me. It’s not the same play-calling when I’m in the game, it’s not the same calling when Willis is in the game. We’re two different backs, and I think that we’re both playing well.

“But I’m sure he’s a guy that we’re going to need in the longer part of the year.”

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