Rice Fills In for McGahee/McClain

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The Ravens may be focusing on their aerial attack with this week's passing camp, but running back Ray Rice* *is certainly getting his share of work.

Rice took the majority of reps with the first and second team offense on Monday, stepping up in the absence of fellow backs Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain.

McGahee was limited in Baltimore's recent mandatory camp because of what he said was offseason ankle surgery, while McClain adjusted to moving back to his original position, fullback.

"It's been a lot of practicing for me," Rice said. "But I think the more reps I can get, the merrier. I'm just taking every day in stride and trying to get better with every chance I get. If that is filling in for Willis or Le'Ron, so be it.

"Those guys will be back soon enough."

Rice, who is commemorating the last few days of sporting his recent Mohawk hairdo by shaving a swirling design on the left side of his head and a bull on the right side, looked sharp during the session.

On one play, he squirted his 5-foot-8, 205-pound frame into a bunched-up defensive line and broke into the second level, shedding two tacklers before sprinting to the end zone after finding another gear. Rice also showed solid hands in seven-on-seven drills.

Rice is hoping his extended action now will pay dividends as he enters his second season.

The 2008 second-round draft pick finished third on the team with 107 carries for 454 yards, while hauling in 33 passes for 273 yards. But, he was the Ravens' most proficient runner, averaging an impressive 4.2 yards per carry.

"Last year, I was mainly the third-down guy, but I tried to make the most of what I could get," Rice said.

With McClain likely reverting to fullback, Rice should get more opportunities in 2009. All the merrier for him.

"Physically, I feel great," Rice continued. "So, this is a big offseason for me to keep getting better. Right now, I've had to get some more carries, had to do it all. It's been great, so far."

The Ravens also saw many other young prospects step up in the absence of some key veterans.

Haruki Nakamura played with the ones for safety Ed Reed, linebacker Jameel McClain was in the middle next to Tavares Gooden for Ray Lewis and Marcus Smith moved up the depth chart with Derrick Mason still recovering from shoulder surgery.

Baltimore continues its passing camp this week through Thursday.  

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