Ravens’ Moves Gear Up Run Game

The Ravens have said they wanted to make improving the rushing attack a priority this offseason.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Monday, August 1st, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Categories: 2011 Training Camp, Mike Duffy

Led by Owner Steve Bisciotti, several members of the Ravens’ front office have said that improving the rushing attack would be an offseason priority.

Judging by the Ravens’ two biggest moves of free agency, they are following through with their plan.

Bringing back mauling offensive lineman Marshal Yanda and signing Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach mark strong steps towards returning to a smash-mouth unit.

“I really think we’ve got to get that running game going,” Bisciotti said in January. “Maybe we took that for granted. When you’re getting 4.8 yards per carry, it’s the staple of your offense. It’s not a given. We have to go back to the drawing board. You can’t take what you’re good at for granted, and I think you’re just going to build on that.”

Ray Rice Looking Forward to Running Behind Leach

Right Click for Full Screen Option

The Ravens enjoyed the spoils of one of the NFL’s most dangerous rushing offenses just a few years ago.

In 2008, Head Coach John Harbaugh’s first season, longtime road-grader Lorenzo Neal paved the way for the Ravens to average 148.5 yards per game (fourth in the league).  The Ravens finished fifth in rushing yards per game with 137.5 in 2009.

But last year, the Ravens fell to 14th overall, netting just 3.8 yards per carry even though Ray Rice tallied 1,220 yards himself.

With Leach on board, Rice envisions even more production, especially when noting that the reigning rushing champion Arian Foster topped 1,600 yards behind the new addition.

“If you watch Arian Foster, he led Arian Foster to those 1,600 yards,” Rice told reporters after singing “I’m So Excited” for the cameras.  “Arian will say it himself, that without Vonta Leach, his season is not the same, not taking away from Arian Foster.  My season is not the same without Le’Ron McClain in front of me.

“When you have a guy like that who brings that physical nature, you know as a running back your job is just to run and catch the ball.  He wants the dirty work.”

With McClain potentially joining another team as an unrestricted free agent, Harbaugh said Leach was highly valued for his penchant for pancake blocks.

“Hitting is part of what I do. It’s the mentality of a fullback,” Leach said.  “You’re going to go in there [and] hit somebody every single time, every single play. It’s going to be like a car crash.”

Throw in Yanda, who is slated to move back inside to his traditional position of right guard, and the Ravens could be road grading yet again in 2011.

“We wanted a big, physical fullback. I think he said it well, and he’s going to have to come here and prove it every single day.  That’s what he brings to the table,” Harbaugh said.  “He’s a presence, and he brings the personality that we had a little more the first year with Lorenzo Neal.

“He’s a guy that we really were targeting all the way back, so we’re happy to have him.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,