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Ravens Say Trent Richardson Toughest NFL Back To Tackle

Posted Nov 1, 2012

Baltimore's run defense is focused on gang tackling and wrapping up to slow the rookie.

Running back Ray Rice has been exchanging jerseys with opposing players this season.

And he’s already making a note to grab Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson’s after Sunday’s game.

“I’m a huge fan of his,” Rice said.

Rice’s defensive teammates better grab onto much more of Richardson, however.

Richardson has quickly established a reputation for being a difficult back to bring down. For a team that has had troubles tackling this season, and one that has been particularly susceptible against the run, the Ravens have a mighty challenge looming.

“I think he runs the ball harder than anybody in the league,” defensive end Pernell McPhee said. “Not saying he’s the best back in the league, but I’ll say he’s the hardest back in the NFL to tackle.”

Since facing Richardson the last time in Week 4, the Ravens have allowed 214, 227 and 181 total rushing yards in each of their last three games, respectively.

Part of the issue, particularly against the Dallas Cowboys, was poor tackling. The Ravens missed 14 tackles that day facing another difficult back to bring down in DeMarco Murray. They didn’t tackle much better even when backup Felix Jones entered the game.

Baltimore focused on getting back to the fundamentals of tackling the week after that game and cut down the missed tackles to just three against Arian Foster and the Texans. The Ravens will have to be on their best behavior again to limit Richardson.

The Ravens did a good job against Richardson on the ground in their first matchup, holding him to just 47 yards on 14 carries (3.4 yard average). Richardson did catch four passes for 57 yards, so he logged over 100 total yards.

Several Ravens said they limited Richardson the first time by gang tackling him and doing a good job of wrapping up.

But Richardson is perhaps a stronger back now than he was then. A rib injury slowed Richardson early in the year, but that has since healed.

The third-overall pick in this year’s draft, Richardson’s starting to live up to his draft billing. He rushed 24 times for 122 yards and a touchdown last week against San Diego’s stout run defense.

With a 5-foot-9, 230-pound frame, Richardson reminded defensive tackle Haloti Ngata of Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew. He reminded defensive end Art Jones of Rice. They’re all small, muscular backs that are quick and have power.

“He’s not going to try to shake you, he’s just going to try to run over you,” Ngata said.

“He doesn’t go down with one person tackling him,” nose tackle Terrence Cody added. “We’re going to need multiple guys around the ball every time he touches the ball.”

Safety Ed Reed indicated that the Ravens may have some additional motivation to hit Richardson.

During the scouting combine, Richardson made a comment about not being scared of “Uncle Ray,” referring to linebacker Ray Lewis. Richardson stood by that remark before meeting Lewis in the pros for the first time.

“Not to be cocky or talking mess, but if you're an athlete or you're a competitor, why would you stand down for anybody?" Richardson asked at the time. "I know Ray Lewis is going to come at me and I'm going to come right back at him.

Lewis won’t be around to further impose his will on the rookie because of his triceps injury, but Reed seems intent on making Lewis’ point for him.

“With everything we’ve done [as a run defense] in the past couple weeks, we definitely have a focus on him for what he did the first game and said,” Reed said.

“We don’t forget stuff, man. You’ve got to be conscious about what you say across this league. We’re definitely up for this challenge and looking forward to it.”

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