Leach has been vanishing act for Ravens

Leach has been vanishing act for Ravens
November 14, 2013, 11:00 am
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Can Ravens take advantage of weak Bears' run defense?

The Ravens on Sunday face a Bears defense that ranks 31st in the league against the run this season, so it stands to  reason that if the  Ravens running game is ever to awaken, it might be -- indeed, it probably needs to be -- Sunday at Chicago.

Does this mean we'll see Vonta Leach again?

As hard as it is for a 260-pound bowling ball to do, Leach has pretty much vanished in plain sight. He played two offensive snaps at Cleveland two weeks ago, and 11 this past week against the Bengals. The Ravens have preferred of late to show three-wide-receiver sets, leaving Leach on the sideline.

“It’s probably more about an evolving offensive scheme," coach John Harbaugh said last week. "We do want Vonta in the mix, but where do you lean most heavily? Our formations have been more one back-type formations the last few weeks.”

The Ravens released Leach in June in a cost-cutting move, but then re-signed him at a discounted price (two years, $3.75 million) in July. His role, as always, has been primarily to be a steamroller in front of running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. He has occasionally been a running back in short yardage situations, with nine carries for 22 yards, and has eight catches for 40 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield.

But along with everyone else involved with the Ravens running game, Leach has had his struggles this season. Pro Football Focus has given him a run-blocking grade of minus-6.8 for the season. (Last year, his cumulative grade was plus-17.5, and it was plus-15.1 two years ago.)

In the Cincinnati game, Leach was on the field for the Ravens' final possession in regulation, and the Ravens ran behind him three straight times but failed to net a first down. That led to a punt and ultimately to the Bengals' game-tying Hail Mary pass.

"The bottom line is we’ve got to block better," Harbaugh said on Monday. "We’ve got to get guys blocked better in terms of making sure that we get hats on hats all the time. We’ve got to continue to improve in that area, but there’s individual accountability for that, and within these walls when we have our meetings, we look really hard at that."