EARLY BIRD: Rice hopes for another big day

EARLY BIRD: Rice hopes for another big day
October 31, 2013, 7:00 am
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Ravens still face major questions on offense

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens on Thursday, as they prepare for Sunday’s must-win encounter against the Browns.

Two-minute topic: Can Ray Rice have another big day in Cleveland?

OWINGS MILLS – Something about playing in Cleveland has brought out the best in Ray Rice.

In five career road games against the Browns, Rice has averaged 127.4 yards per game, including a 204-yard performance in 2011. While the Browns have struggled in recent years, defense has been their strong suit. Yet, Rice has carved them up. Even Rice can’t fully explain it.

“I don’t know what the deal is in Cleveland – the grass or something like that,” Rice said.

Rice needs something to get him going. He is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, and his longest run of the season is 14 yards. That is a dramatic decline for one of the NFL’s top backs over the last four seasons. Rice has been reluctant to use the hip flexor he suffered in Week 2 as an excuse. However, he admitted he felt much better after the bye.

“It was every bit much needed,” Rice said. “I felt myself turning the curve after the Pittsburgh game. I’ve been coming out of games getting better and better each week. So having a week off where you’re not even getting touched – that definitely pays dividends.”

Perhaps another visit to Cleveland will pay dividends for Rice as well.

Morning thought: “Listen, we’ve got a long ways to go. We haven’t been operating the way we want to, but we’re heading in the right direction. I think we are starting to create an identity and go after something.” – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on the offense.

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