The Ray Rice interview

Ray

My photo of Ray Rice on Friday at the Baltimore Ravens’ practice.

 

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Those who think running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL should listen to Ray Rice.

In a sitdown interview with QMI Agency on Friday, the Baltimore Raven explained why it’s no coincidence he’s one of the game’s premier backs.

“I’m not taking away from the guys who line up every day and go between the tackles and do their thing,” Rice told me at the Ravens’ headquarters and practice facility, “but I just think there’s more to the game now.

“If you’re a running back and you can’t catch as well as you run, you’re going to find yourself weeded out pretty quickly.”

Rice is the ultimate dual threat in that regard.

He led the Ravens in receptions last season, with 76 for 704 yards. Combined with his 1,364 rushing yards, Rice led the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,068.

He and Marshal Faulk are the only players in NFL history with multiple seasons of 1,000 yards rushing and 700 yards receiving.

“As running backs, we’ve got to evolve with the changes,” he said. “It used to be, ‘We gotta give it to a guy 20, 25 times to win the game.’ Some guys still think that. But I think when talent is changing — guys that can run faster, jump higher — you’ve got to change. As long as you can evolve with the change, then you’ll sustain yourself in the league.”

RayRice laughed when asked if he thought that way in high school, where he grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., or in college, where he starred at Rutgers in New Jersey.

“No! That’s why I’m trying to school (young running backs) now.

“There’s going to be games when you’re going to need to carry it a lot, don’t get me wrong. But if you think you can take 25 carries week in and week out, try it. You’ll be done in three years.

“In the NFL, you’re talking about grown men now. You’re not dealing with little kids anymore. You’re dealing with people who have mastered the game of football, just like you can master the game of chess. And the jump from college to pros is even greater than high school to college.”

Let’s be clear, though. Rice — who is heading into his fifth year in the league — can pound it with the best of them when necessary. He’s built for that too, standing only 5-foot-8 and weighing 208 pounds during the season, he said.
He’s only 25 years old, and has been to two Pro Bowls.

Just two weeks ago, the Ravens rewarded Rice with a five-year, $40-milllion contract, with $24 million of it guaranteed.

He says the best part of that isn’t the money because, as he points out, if the Ravens had just kept franchise-tagging him, he’d get good money.

Rather, it’s that he’s — well, a homebody. He was born and raised in one city, and the prospect of having to become a nomad of sorts in free agency upset him.

“I’m not real good with moving around. I was more frustrated with the franchise tag because I was only guaranteed to be here for one year.

“You want a blanket of security to know where you’re going to be for the next few years in your life … But now to be here — one team, one organization the rest of my career? That’d be great.”

The Ravens have reached the playoffs every year with Rice. The team is coming off back-to-back 12-4 seasons, and was an agonizing missed field goal at New England away from reaching the Super Bowl.

The goal this year? Simple.

“If you don’t come into the season and say the No. 1 priority on your list is to win the Super Bowl, then quite frankly you’re not even going to contend,” he said.

“The playoffs? We expect to be there. We’ve been there. But getting to the Super Bowl and winning it is the ultimate goal. And that should be the goal of all 32 teams — to win the Super Bowl. To win MULTIPLE Super Bowls.”

——-

RAY AND RAY

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Every day, Ray Lewis and Ray Rice walk out onto the practice field together, side by side.

Lewis — the 17-year veteran linebacker extraordinaire — means that much to Rice.

Rays“That’s my big bro, mentor, father figure — he’s everything in one,” Rice told me Friday, before the Baltimore Ravens’ afternoon practice.

“My locker is here, his is there. I need to pick his brain? I go right there.

When you have that kind of wisdom by your side, you’ve got to try to be a sponge every time he says something. I don’t care if it’s a joke, I try to copy that joke — and tell it later on down the line.”

Lewis turned heads on the Ravens when he showed up at camp slimmer. Rice said Lewis is down to 240 pounds, from 250-255.

“People who think that’s going to take away from his physicality? Yeah, try him. That man is strong.

“He’s reached that plateau. He has what you call ‘grown-man strength.’ Shake his hand and you’ll understand.”

We’ll take your word for it, Ray.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>