The sixth-year running back showed signs of quickness and elusiveness in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, a promising sign after he has dealt with a hip injury through the first half of the season.
“I had my burst back,” Rice said. “I got everything that I needed to get back.”
Rice suffered the hip flexor strain in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns, and the injury held him out of action the following week against Houston. Rice returned in Week 4, but did not appear to have the same mobility against Buffalo and Green Bay. Rice put up just 51 total rushing yards in losses to the Bills and Packers.
Coming into Sunday’s game against the Steelers, Rice stressed to reporters that he was finally at full strength after coming back from the injury.
“I told you this week that I felt good,” Rice said. “I wouldn’t kid you if I said I was feeling good. I got my step back. That’s exciting for me going into the second half of the year. I get a bye week, came out with no injuries, and my legs are feeling a lot better.
“I’m looking forward to doing some damage.”
Rice finished Sunday’s game with 15 carries for 45 yards, an average of 3.0 yards per carry. He was also tied for a team leading four receptions for 27 yards.
“I felt like we did a better job in the run game,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “We got a few more yards, a few more yards per carry. It’s improving, but we have a long way to go with it.”
The Ravens often used Rice out of a single-back, shotgun formation, which was part of some recent scheme adjustments. The Ravens spread out Pittsburgh’s defense, and then looked for running lanes up the middle on draws and quick handoffs.
“We probably could have made a few more plays, but the thing is that we got better on offense,” Rice said. “We would have loved to win the game. But we’re a total team effort and we just have to get better in all phases.”
This season has been a struggle for Rice, who currently has 86 carries for 242 yards and three touchdowns. He is on pace for 553 rushing yards, which would be his lowest total since his rookie season. Rice has broken 1,000 rushing yards in each of the last four seasons.
“My first half of the season, I played through an injury,” Rice said. “Getting my footing under me today the way I was able to get it under me today, against a hard-nosed defense, felt really good. There’s things obviously I want to get better at too. I want to sustain drives and keep myself ready and do things to continue to get better and continue to get healthy.”
Rice now has two weeks to recover before the Ravens’ back-to-back AFC North games against the Browns and Bengals.
“We have to get better,” Rice said. “This is the bye week, and it’s time to get away from football and enjoy the family a little bit. But we have to get better. We have to get better in all aspects.”