OWINGS MILLS - Ravens running back Ray Rice just doesn't look like same explosive, elusive, dynamic, Pro Bowl player that he has throughout his career.
The tackles that he used to break on a regular basis aren't being broken. He isn't making defenders miss in space like he has in the past. More often than not, he seems to be getting brought down on first contact.
He also doesn't appear to have the same burst or explosiveness.
Rice said prior to Baltimore's bye week almost a month ago that he felt back to full strength from the hip flexor strain he suffered in Week 2, but coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he believes that the hip is still limiting Rice.
"You've got to look at the numbers, and it's definitely not the same," Harbaugh said. "There's no doubt about that. So what is it? It's injury or it's not as much room to run or it's both.
"His health has been a factor. There's no doubt about it. ... That's a hip flexor. Those are muscle injuries. That's hard to predict exactly what impact that has, but you've got to assume it's had an impact."
Rice hasn't been helped by an offensive line that continues to have problems creating running lanes, but he is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry for the season, the lowest average in the NFL among qualified running backs.
He had just 30 yards on 18 carries against the Bengals on Sunday and is averaging just 1.6 yards per carry in the two games since declaring himself healthy prior to the bye week.
He also picked up just 26 yards on six catches against Cincinnati, an average of just 4.3 yards per catch. He's averaging just 4.9 yards per catch for the season. In comparison, he averaged 7.8 yards per catch or better each of his first five seasons.
Backup running back Bernard Pierce has been ineffective for the most part as well and has been limited by his own injury, but he did have some success on Sunday.
He had 31 yards on eight carries.
Harbaugh didn't rule out that Pierce could see an increase in carries with Rice continuing to struggle.
"Both of those guys are going to get a large number of carries, and I think whichever guy is playing better should get more carries as we go forward," Harbaugh said.
But whether it's Rice, Pierce, Bernard Scott, Vonta Leach or whoever is carrying the ball, the Ravens' running game needs to be better.
Harbaugh and players have said that repeatedly during the past two months, and Harbaugh said it again Monday.
The 1-8 Jaguars are the only team not averaging fewer yards per carry than Baltimore.
The offensive line being better would help but so would Rice being more look like the explosive, elusive, dynamic player he has been throughout his career.