Ravens running back Ray Rice, who on Wednesday spoke to reporters for the first time since signing a five-year contract extension last week, believes the competition at left guard during training camp “is going to bring the best out of everybody.”
Bobbie Williams, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, looks to be the frontrunner, but youngsters such as Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski and Jah Reid also will be in the mix. Williams, who joined the team during last month's mandatory minicamp, ran with the first-team offense during the minicamp.
“He’s been in the league for a long time now. We’ve scouted him,” Rice said of Williams, who is 35. “We know we’ve got young guys, but it’s good to know that you have a veteran presence.”
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That battle will be among the most scrutinized during training camp as the Ravens must replace a Pro Bowl guard in Ben Grubbs, who signed with the New Orleans Saints during the offseason. Rice said he will miss Grubbs, one of the first guys to text Rice after he got his fat, new contract.
“We know the business side of it,” Rice said. “Ben Grubbs, I would have loved to see him stay. He’s a heck of a player. But we know there are holes to be filled. Guard is something we’ll pay close attention to and anybody who is front of me, I trust. As a running back, if you don’t trust, you won’t get anywhere. That’s when you start to stutter-step. Their job is to make me look good, but my job is to also make them look good as well.”
Running behind a Baltimore line that boasted two Pro Bowl guards -- Grubbs and right guard Marshal Yanda -- Rice rushed for 1,364 yards in 2011, led the the league in yards from scrimmage and scored a franchise-record 15 total touchdowns. Rice was also named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career.