By Edward Lee
6:00 AM EST, December 10, 2011
The relationship between a tailback and fullback can be symbiotic. The tailback’s production can be linked to the fullback’s ability to create running lanes, and the tailback’s gains can reflect positively – or negatively – on the fullback.
Ray Rice and Vonta Leach clearly enjoy the kind of relationship that allows them to edify and criticize each other openly. Rice needles the 6-foot, 260-pound Leach, teasing him about his weight.
Leach returned the favor last week, snapping a picture of the top rushers in the NFL (Rice ranked 14th at the time with 722 yards) and texting that photo to Rice prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns.
“[H]e sent me a text before the game and it showed all the guys’ rushing numbers,” Rice recalled Wednesday. “His text was, ‘C’mon now, we’ve got to have a big one this week. Look where you’re at.’ I told him, ‘Man, you really upset me. I needed to get it going this week.’ But everything ended up playing out to be a total team performance. He’s a character. He’s a straight-up guy. He’s a leader on this offense.”
Leach smiled when asked about the text, calling it “just a little motivational thing.”
“We were kind of low on the list for rushing yards, and I told him that we needed to get our rushing yards up some,” Leach said. “Looked like it worked a little bit.”
It certainly did. With his 204-yard outburst against the Browns, Rice currently ranks seventh in the league with 926 rushing yards.
And that’s why Rice said he is behind an informal campaign to get Leach to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii – a lobbying effort he called “sending Leach to the beach.”
“Vonta, essentially, is going to take me to where I need to be, and that’s in the run game,” Rice said. “Usually, it’s just something as simple as reading him, to get to that second level. We have faith that the offensive line is going to do what they need to do. Sometimes when I make a cut too early, I’ll hear about it on the sideline, and then we play off that, play off each other. It’s just communication that allows us to do what we do out there. He’s obviously a physical fullback. He wants only to plow the way.”
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