Just because the Ravens had a Pro Bowl fullback and Pro Bowl running back last year doesn't mean they were on the same page the whole season.
It took some time for Vonta Leach and Ray Rice to learn how to work together.
And that "trust factor" is something Leach wants to continue to build on in 2012 – once Rice arrives.
"Anytime you've been with somebody for a year, you know what they're thinking and they know what you're thinking," Leach said during minicamp last week. "The trust factor is there. We built on that all last year."
Rice had already been a Pro Bowler in 2009 and rushed for more than 1,200 yards twice before Leach arrived via free agency last year. The Ravens altered their rushing attack to more of a zone stretch scheme, and Leach, who ran a similar system in Houston, helped with the transition.
It was a bit tougher for Rice, however, Leach says. He wasn't as accustomed to following his big, lead blocker.
"It takes some time," Leach said. "Ray had a lot of success in the NFL at cutting back. Once you have a lot of success in that, it's kind of hard for you to trust your front-side read and stay on track sometimes."
Leach said he got on Rice about* *it sometimes, but smiled and said they have a "love-love relationship."
Some other teammates got on Rice about it too. In the NFL Network video featuring Leach among the top 100 players of 2012, linebacker Ray Lewis is seen imploring Rice to follow Leach. He was doing it in Week 17 in Cincinnati, the very end of the regular season.
The Ravens ran for 221 yards that day. Rice had 191 on 24 carries, including touchdowns of 70 and 51 yards. Baltimore's ground game picked up steam as the year went on, and Leach partially attributed it to the trust he and Rice developed.
"We got more used to each other and it's a byproduct of us leaning on the run the last month of the season," Leach said. "So hopefully we'll get Ray in here so we can pick up where we left off at."