For Ray Rice who stands at 5 feet, 8 inches, there aren’t too many running backs in the NFL that he has a height advantage on.
On Monday night, the Ravens running back will get a chance to enjoy that advantage when he meets 5-7 Maurice Jones-Drew and the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Rice, who spoke Thursday, said he and Jones-Drew are friends who spent time together at the 2009 Pro Bowl and at the 2008 NFL draft.
“It’s more like when we see each other, we know that off the field, it’s a mutual respect, good buddies. Standing next to him, he will tell you that I do have him by an inch or so,” Rice said, eliciting laughter from a group of reporters. “So I won that battle. He is a little thicker than me, but when you look at the life story and you look at the game, we are just two ‘undersized guys’ that have proven ourselves over and over that, not only are we great running backs, but we are here to stay and we are going to continue to try to be consistent backs in this league.”
In spite of their size, both tailbacks are valued components for their respective offenses. Jones-Drew is the NFL’s third-leading rusher with 572 yards, and he is tied for second with 17 runs of 10 yards or more. Jones-Drew has been especially critical for a Jacksonville offense that starts rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Jones-Drew ranks second in the NFL with 118 carries and fifth with 127 touches.
Rice has posted the third-highest average in yards from scrimmage this season with 140.0 yards. His yards-from-scrimmage average of 122.1 since 2009 ranks first in the league, and his 25 games of at least 100 yards from scrimmage over that same span also leads his peers.
Rice didn’t think he and Jones-Drew would be conversing much this week prior to Monday night’s clash in Jacksonville, but he has an inkling of what his counterpart is thinking.
“I am sure what’s going on his mind is that he wants to be the better back on that night,” Rice said. “Every running back goes into the game [that way]. Last week, I wanted to be better than [the Houston Texans’] Arian Foster and still win the game. This week, I want to be the better back to come out of this game. It’s not personal where you are jawing at each other, but it’s more like you want to do well because he is a great running back. He has proven [himself] in this league. Arian Foster was the guy last week. He was the NFL’s leader in rushing last year. You want to kind of have that battle to get you up, but at the same time, the overall goal is to win the game.”