Since being drafted by the Ravens in 2008, Ray Rice has been eager to carve a place in NFL history, and one of the more accommodating opponents has been the Cleveland Browns.
From a 21-carry, 154-yard performance on Nov. 2, 2008 to a 29-carry, 204-yard showing on Dec. 4, 2011, the running back has thrived against Cleveland. In his career, Rice has averaged 96.9 rushing yards against the Browns, which ranks as the second-highest total against an opposing team that he has faced at least three times. (Rice has averaged 97.3 yards in three contests against the New England Patriots.)
In last year’s rematch on Christmas Eve, Rice was limited to 87 yards on 23 rushes, but he did catch three balls for 48 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown. His dual threat as a rusher and receiver impressed Cleveland defensive coordinator Dick Jauron.
“He’s really clearly one of the very best players in the league on the offensive side of the ball,” Jauron told Cleveland reporters Tuesday. “He’s an outstanding receiver, got great balance, he’s got really good speed. He hits the hole fast, he finds the holes. They’re good up front. It’s a combination that really stresses a defense. He’s just a tremendous player.”
Because of Rice’s history of success against the Browns, it would seem that the Ravens might be wise to employ him frequently Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium. But offensive coordinator Cam Cameron declined to make that guarantee.
“This is a different team, different year,” he said. “I think everybody knows, every week in this league takes on, almost, a life of its own. Probably the only thing I would add [to] the Ray Rice thing, I think the last four years kind of speak for [themselves]. If we as a staff gave Ray Rice the ball as much as everybody wants us to, he would wind up like the rest of the backs in this league. We’re not going to let that happen. I think there’s a sweet spot on how much you can use a three-down back in this business over a 20-game-plus season. We think we’ve found that sweet spot for him. It will vary a little bit from week to week, but you can’t find many backs in this league that can last 16, 20 games, much less [for] five seasons. So I think we’ve got a good feel for what is best for him and what is best for us.”