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Ravens simply 'cannot run the ball right now'

OWINGS MILLS - The scheme has been tinkered with. The offensive line configuration has changed. And there have been new wrinkles implemented in an effort to jump-start the running game.
But the outcome has been the same week after week.
"We cannot run the ball right now," Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after Sunday's loss to the Browns.
The Ravens are averaging a league-worst 2.8 yards per carry, have averaged 3.3 yards per carry or worse in all eight of their games and Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are tied for the second-worst yards per carry in the NFL among qualified running backs (2.7).
Pierce said last week that he and Rice were as collectively healthy entering the game against Cleveland as they had been at any point since Rice injured his hip in Week 2, but the two combined for just 28 yards on 17 carries.
Rice had 10 yards on his first two carries, but he picked up just seven on his next nine. Pierce had just 11 yards on six carries. Seven came on one run.
"It's tough," tight end Ed Dickson said. "The way it looks in practice and the way it looks in the game are two totally different things. We want to be better, but it seems like we haven't been getting better."
It isn't just one issue that has led to the struggles, though.
Some outside the organization have blamed new run game coordinator Juan Castillo and his implementation of more zone blocking concepts and some different techniques for the offensive linemen.
Not to say Castillo changing the scheme some or teaching new techniques hasn't played a role in the problem. But as Caldwell said Thursday of the Ravens' usage of zone blocking concepts, "Those schemes aren't anything new to us."
"We've certainly been using those - zone and man schemes - periodically depending on who we play," Caldwell said. "It's just a number of different things - technique just in terms of fundamentals. There are a lot of factors involved in it."
Rice also hasn't looked as explosive and elusive as he has in the past, whether that's a product of the hip injury or not.
Pierce has also been admittedly limited at times by a hamstring injury that he has dealt with for several weeks.
But, according to Harbaugh, part of the problem against the Browns was that Cleveland loaded the box to stop the run and the Ravens attempted to run into some defensive fronts that weren't favorable.
"We're running more three-wides during the game, spreading people out and letting that gunslinger, Joe Flacco, tote that rock a little bit, and that's probably going to get teams to play a little softer," Dickson said.
"Strategically ... I think we might be forcing it a little bit thinking we want to run the ball on this look or run the ball on that look.
"We just have to let it come to us and not force it, and I think we'll be just fine."
Baltimore faces the Bengals this weekend.
Cincinnati is ranked fifth in total defense but has struggled at times versus the run and will now be without its best front seven player, defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
The Bengals allowed 4.0 yards per carry in their first nine games, primarily with Atkins in the lineup. That ranks them just 15th in yards per carry allowed.
Dolphins running back Lamar Miller 105 yards on just 16 carries against Cincinnati last week.
"All this has been really frustrating for us, but we're really close to breaking some long runs, and hopefully we can do it this week," fullback Vonta Leach said. "We've just got to keep stay the course, weather the storm and get it right."

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