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Ray Rice Assures Ravens Will Run Better

Posted Sep 12, 2013

The Ravens will likely run more times against Cleveland, but will it be more effective?

After watching Joe Flacco throw a career-high 62 passes in the first game of the season, there is already concern in Baltimore that the Ravens are abandoning the run game.

The Ravens themselves, however, are not worried.

“Running the ball is something we’ve always been able to do around here, and I don’t see that stopping right now,” running back Ray Rice said. “Running the ball is something that we’ll get better at.”

Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda grew tired of questions about the run-pass ratio Wednesday afternoon.

“Trust me, you don’t think Jim Caldwell wants to give Ray Rice the ball?” right guard Marshal Yanda said. “I mean, c’mon, he definitely wants to give him the ball. We’re going to give him the ball when we can, and we’ll be fine.”

The Ravens finished last Thursday's game with 21 carries for 58 yards (2.8 yards per carry). Rice took 12 of the handoffs while Bernard Pierce carried nine.

There are many factors that dictate the pass-run ratio over the course of game.

Some can be based around game plan. The Broncos were without top cornerback Champ Bailey, so the Ravens could have been looking to exploit a weakness.

Adjustments must also be made over the course of the game. The Ravens weren’t running the ball particularly well in the first half. They had 16 carries for 55 yards, but two rushes made up almost half of that total. For the most part, the Ravens were getting stuffed. Even with that, Rice said he thought the balance was good in the first half.

But due to a disastrous third quarter, the Ravens had to take to the air. Baltimore was trying to make up a 25-point deficit with just more than 13 minutes left. Teams can score quickest by passing the ball since they can pick up big chunks and stop the clock on incompletions.

The issue the Ravens were concerned about in leaving Denver was not how many times they were running, but their effectiveness when they did.

“I don’t think anybody would have any question that we’re committed to making certain that we can run the ball," Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "We certainly need to run it and run it better.”

Rice agreed.

“We do have to run the ball better,” Rice said. “That’s something that I know we can get corrected, with the guys we have in front of us, our offensive line, having Marshal, having ‘K.O.’ [Kelechi Osemele], [and] having the gel that we have. Running the football is something that is a man-on-man thing. Those guys will get it corrected.”

Getting the run game going against Cleveland will be a tough task. The Browns held the Miami Dolphins to just 20 rushing yards on 23 attempts (0.9 yards per carry) last Sunday. It was the best mark in the league in Week 1, and the second-fewest rushing yards allowed in a game in Dolphins franchise history.

The Browns have a talented front seven with big Phil Taylor in the middle, former Maryland star D’Qwell Jackson at inside linebacker, and Jabaal Sheard and former Raven Paul Kruger at outside linebacker.

Still, look for the Ravens to test what they have Sunday on the ground, even though Harbaugh isn’t going to give any clues. He was asked whether Baltimore will run the ball more this week than last.

“We’ll see,” Harbaugh said with a grin. “I’ll let you know Sunday.”

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