Ray Rice has acknowledged that he hasn't been his old self this season.
The big plays and gaudy statistics that have defined his NFL career have been hard to come by, and the Pro Bowl running back has endured the most disappointing year of his professional career.
As Rice and the Ravens prepare for the regular-season finale against the Bengals, Rice points to the injuries as the biggest factor to slowing him down this year.
"For some of the people who say, 'You lost a step,' it's different when you have an injury that controls things that you're normally good at doing," Rice said. "So I had to battle that this year."
Rice had a hip injury that slowed him down for the first half of the season, and has recently dealt with a thigh issue. He has missed just one game because of the injuries, but he has not displayed the same burst as previous seasons.
The 26-year-old back stressed Thursday that he still has plenty of juice left and he expects to return to the explosive player who has carried the Ravens offense in previous years.
"[I want to] prove myself again, that I'll still be a premier running back in the NFL," Rice said.
Coming into this season, Rice had topped 1,000 rushing yards in four straight seasons. Now he has 645 rushing yards and four touchdowns this year. He also has just 286 receiving yards and no scores.
"It's life," Rice said. "From a personal standpoint, I understand that I played through a lot this year. For me to get back out there and just battle and not worry about what I have to do statistically, and what I have to do week in and week out. Statistically I put all of that stuff aside. But personally, I'm glad I was able to overcome some things."
Before this season, Rice had never dealt with significant injuries and had played every game of the last four years. He had also never had lingering muscular injuries like the problems he's had this year.
"I've dealt with shoulders, I've dealt with sprains. But dealing with a muscular kind of injury, it was different for me," Rice said.
To avoid muscular issues in the future, Rice told reporters that he will re-examine his offseason training regimen once the season is over. The 5-foot-8, 212-pound running back even mentioned the idea of cutting some weight to add more speed to his game.
"Maybe less muscle, more speed," he said. "It might be something that I want to change up. That will be an offseason study for myself.
"I think I came into the season in great shape. This just happened to be a freak deal, something I probably wasn't used to."