Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice had a quick initial reaction to the new crown-of-helmet rule designed to protect defensive players. He didn't like it.
Now Rice has softened his stance a bit toward the change, which has made it illegal for runners to use the crown of their helmet to hit defenders outside of the tackles.
Rice indicated today that he'll make the adjustment while still fighting for extra yards.
"I just sat back and analyzed it a little bit," Rice said today at the Ravens' offseason conditioning program. "I thought about why they put the rule in place. If I was on the sideline and if I wasn't going to get the extra 2 yards and there was a guy knowing I was going to go out of bounds and I lower my head or shoulder into him, maybe that's an unfair advantage because the guy thinks I'm going to slow down and the next thing you know I want to get an extra 2 yards and I lower my head. I thought that was the rule.
"I also said if I'm in the open field and I got nowhere to go and I got one defender left, it's natural for a running back to lower their shoulder and defend themselves. Obviously, I wouldn't be one of them guys on the sideline trying to duck my head into a defenseless defender. I guess that's my interpretation of the rule. I also think as a running back we get tackled the most. We have to protect ourselves."
When the rule change was passed, NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay and committee member Jeff Fisher emphasized that it will only be enforced for flagrant violations.
"It will be interesting to see how it shakes out," Rice said. "I didn't agree with it because I felt like it was saying we were just lowering our heads and we're battering rams. Ninety percent of the time we're the target. Lets see how it plays out. It's one of those things with every rule in the NFL, if you don't adjust and you don't adapt you'll eventually be weeded out. I've always been able to adjust my game. Maybe it's making the game safer.
"I'm all about player safety. My vow to a defender on the sideline you might not get me maybe push for that extra 2 yards If it's a third down and it's 2 yards to get and the sideline is there, you better believe you're going to get my best effort in that situation. If there's no room to go, I guess that unnecessary hit I'm not about taking them anymore. I've got to be smart in what I do to my body as well."