PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
At 5-foot-8 (on his tip-toes) and 210 pounds, Ray Rice is probably pretty easy to lose in a crowd.
But the Ravens’ budding star running back is making a grand statement on the stat sheet.
After six games, Rice is leading the NFL in total yards from scrimmage by averaging 127.7 entering Week 8.
Rice currently has 441 rushing yards coming from 73 carries and a team-high 33 receptions for 325 yards.
Not too bad for a guy that may have slid to the second round of the draft because of his size.
“I’ve been this size nearly my entire life, ever since I’ve been at Rutgers running between the tackles, now here doing a little bit more catching and running,” Rice said. “‘I was a 2,000-yard rusher in college. Running the football and making plays was something I’ve been doing my whole life.
“I think after you make a few plays, they sort of… It weighs back inside. Same thing with [Jacksonville's] Maurice Jones-Drew. People talked about that guy, his size, and he made a few plays, and now you don’t hear about his size anymore. I just look at my size as an advantage to me. If I get an open space, my job is to make the first guy miss, and I think 90 percent of the time I get that job done.”
Rice has been making guys miss all season long.
He has used his size to his advantage. Staying low to the ground gives him a low center of gravity and the ability to put his hand on the ground to maintain stability while breaking tackles and big runs.
Two weeks ago, Rice showed his playmaking ability with a 63-yard reception that led to a Derrick Mason touchdown reception against the Minnesota Vikings, and then he ran 33 yards through the Vikings’ defense for a score.
The proud New Rochelle, N.Y., native’s production has not surprised anyone wearing purple and black.
“When we threw the ball to Ray in the offseason, I’ve always known – we’ve known – that if you get Ray the ball in open space and give him a chance to make the first guy miss, then he’s going to be tough to beat,” said quarterback Joe Flacco. “He’s making the first guy miss, and it’s tough to tackle him. If you can make that first guy miss, you never know what’s going to happen. You never know if there is going to be any defense beyond that. Lot of times he’s breaking through that initial wall, and he’s been gone recently.”
Rice’s production has bred popularity in Baltimore. Already, there are more No. 27 jerseys dotting M&T Bank Stadium on gameday.
And last weekend at an MMA event at First Mariner Bank Arena, Rice got a loud ovation when he was spotlighted in the crowd.
Rice has definitely adopted his new city, and even cited a famous quote from the movie “Wedding Crashers” for a tribute.
“It’s everything that I’ve dreamed of,” he said with a smile. “Baltimore is a great city. The fans are great. Football down here, this is what we have. I’ve heard ‘football and crab cakes’ – too bad I’m allergic to that shellfish. Crab cakes aren’t going to cut it for me, but football and salmon will do me good.”