Although he lost his second fumble of the season against the Miami Dolphins, three-time Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice showed some signs of progress last Sunday. Rice was more elusive and explosive than he has been all season, but his play was still not quite up to his gold standard. Rice didn't make big plays in the open field, pounding out 74 yards and two touchdowns. He had six receptions, but totaled only 28 yards. His strained left hip flexor has continued to get stronger, and he's no longer listed on the injury report. But Rice still isn't completely 100 percent. For the season, Rice has been limited to 163 yards and three touchdowns. He's averaging 2.9 yards on 57 carries, and missed the Sept. 22 game against the Houston Texans with the hip injury. Rice is currently on pace to finish the regular season with 522 yards and 54 receptions. The Packers have a big defensive line and are normally stout against the run, ranking fifth in the league in run defense (86 yards per game). But they won't have starting linebackers Clay Matthews and Brad Jones on the field Sunday because of injuries. Is Rice healthy enough to take advantage of their absences? "I think he's feeling better," offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "He obviously indicated that, and I think you'll begin to see him consistently perform at a top level, and he's working toward that. Ray is a hard-running guy. "I'm not certain there is ever going to be a time when a running back is going to feel 100 percent in this league. I do think that he feels good about where he is at this point, and hopefully that continues."
Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun