By Nick Anderson: In a move to spread the offensive workload around to other players, the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly looking to have #1 running back Ray Rice’s carries reduced this season in an effort to let their young talented 2nd year running back Bernard Pierce get some more carries.
Pierce, a 3rd round draft choice from Temple in 2012, rushed for 532 yards on 108 carries in 2012 in averaging 4.9 yards per carry. In contrast, Rice had 1,143 yards on 257 carries for an average of 4.4 yards per carry. Pierce was an excellent running back in college, rushing for over 1,000 yards twice in three seasons and averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
In moving to the NFL, Pierce’s rushing average has remained high, and that’s obviously something the Ravens haven’t missed. If you’ve got one running back averaging 4.4 yards per carry and the other averaging almost 5 yards each time he touches the ball, it makes sense to even things out a little, or turn things around to where Pierce is the one getting most of the carries instead of Rice.
It might be a little tough on Rice to see his workload suddenly drop off, as he’s rushed for over 1,000 yards in his last four seasons with the Ravens after being drafted by them in the 2nd round in 2008 out of Rutgers. Rice on the small side at 5’8” 212 lbs. compared to the 6’0” 218 pound Pierce, and that could be one of the reasons why Pierce was the better runner last season compared to Rice.
It’s difficult for short running backs like Rice to have high rushing averages because they’re getting hit by players much bigger than them. That’s why it’s important for National Football League teams to have running backs with some size on them so that they can break tackles or run through players.
Rice is good at catching passes coming out of the backfield and this could be a more important role for him this season given that the Ravens have lost their #1 wide receiver in Anquan Boldin, and may need a good receiver to catch passes from quarterback Joe Flacco. Rice has breakaway speed in the open field, and that’s what the Ravens need to take advantage of this season if they want to get to the Super Bowl again.