The magic number for Ray Rice should be in the neighborhood of 25 touches Sunday when the Ravens travel to face the Browns.
With the Ravens in the second half of the season, the door opens for Rice to play a bigger role.
He signed a $40 million contract in the offseason, but Baltimore has been careful to preserve the 5-foot-8, 212-pound running back. He has 106 carries for 524 yards and five touchdowns. He has 29 catches for 245.
The Ravens (5-2) are atop the AFC North with Rice getting just 15 carries and four receptions per game. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has made it a point to keep Rice fresh in the early going. With quarterback Joe Flacco calling audibles at the line of scrimmage in the hurry-up offense, however, Rice can get lost.
"We have to make sure that within our audible system the audibles don’t take the ball out of his hands, based on what the defense might be dictating," Cameron said. "There are a lot of things that factor in. The situation, most of the time … when Ray hasn’t gotten the ball the way maybe we would like as much, the situation has dictated that a little bit, too."
Compared to last season after seven games, Rice only has nine fewer carries overall. Then, he averaged 16.4 carries and 4.7 receptions per game so he's not far off pace. He had career-highs of 1,364 yards rushing and 704 yards receiving in 2011 to lead all NFL players in yards from scrimmage.
"We don’t want to overwork a back because it can be done. It’s a fine line because it’s a long season and no one takes hits like those running backs do -- no one," Cameron said. "When you see those guys after a 25-carry game or a 30-carry game, they are not the same on Wednesday and Thursday. So we need to get him the ball more. But … within reason, the game plan. You look at some other offenses in this league that become one-dimensional with a back, you can overwork him, No. 1. But No. 2, you lose the guy, and they’re done."
Rice appreciates the concern, and he realizes Flacco has plenty of weapons at his disposal.
"That 20-25 touch range is usually pretty good, but we know there’s only one football to go around. With the talent that we have on our offense, the more and more we are capable of using everyone, the better we’ll be," Rice said. "This is the healthiest I’ve felt in a while. … I’m looking forward to a nice workload the second half of the season.”