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Ray Rice Responds To Notion He's Lost A Step


The criticism of Ray Rice has intensified in recent weeks.

The Pro Bowl running back is having the worst season of his six-year career, and the Ravens currently rank 29th in the NFL in rushing offense. The down year has led to tough questions for Rice, and on Wednesday he responded to the notion that he has lost a step.

"Everybody has these situations," Rice said. "A down year is not going to make or break me as a person. I've been through a lot worse than averaging what I'm averaging in carries. I got broad shoulders. I'll take it."

Rice has 97 carries for 259 yards this year, an average of 2.7 yards per carry, which is the second worst among qualified NFL running backs. He has previously never averaged below 4.0 yards a carry in any season.

"If you watch the film, you'd understand that we've been playing pretty good fronts," he said. "We've got eight games left, and that's my focus now."

Part of the problem for Rice is that he dealt with an injury earlier in the season. He suffered a hip flexor strain in Week 2, and then missed the following week's matchup against the Texans. The injury limited his explosiveness, but he has stressed in recent weeks that he is healthy again.

"I've been working on my health. My health is there," he said. "And now it's time to keep pushing for these next eight games, and win the ones that we have at home."

The issues in the running game have not been isolated to Rice. The offensive line has struggled to clear holes and Bernard Pierce is also averaging just 2.7 yards per carry.

Despite the struggles through the first half of the season, Rice still believes the running offense can find its rhythm in the second half. 

"My level of confidence is where it was in Week 1," he said. "I still believe we'll get the run game going. We have the guys. It's never been an effort thing. We've just seen some pretty good fronts and I've battled through some stuff this year."

This season has been much different for Rice personally and as a team. The Ravens are under .500 at this point in the season for the first time since he, Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh arrived in Baltimore in 2008. Rice is on pace to finish with just 518 rushing yards, compared to the 1,266.5 he has averaged over the last four years.

"This is my first time in my entire life being in a situation like this," he said. "I've always been on the plus .500 side* *ever since I was a kid. So there's a first time for everything, but at the same time, I know where I stand on this team. I know I'm a leader.

"Now I'm just going to go out there and try to be the best Ray Rice I can be for the second half of the season."

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