Rice: Offense ready to show its stuff

Rice: Offense ready to show its stuff
September 1, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Ray Rice has a message for those who were unimpressed with the Ravens offense in the preseason: Relax. No need to panic.

“We were very vanilla in the preseason,” Rice said on Sunday in his weekly session with the media. Rice and the Ravens are in midweek mode this Labor Day weekend as they prepare for the season opener at Denver on Thursday night.

“We would love to execute better. … We’ve made our mistakes,” Rice said. But, Rice suggested, there were plenty of factors, which you can throw out the window once the preseason ends.

First, the team didn’t design specific offensive game-plans for the preseason games like they will for the Broncos this week.

The personnel was a series of moving parts. Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda hardly played this preseason as he recovered from a shoulder injury. Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley split time at center as the Ravens let them compete for the starting job. The Ravens used several tight ends, one of whom (Visanthe Shiancoe) is no longer with the team. And the Ravens, especially in the third preseason game when the first unit played the most, rotated through several receivers as they tried to break a logjam at that position.

As usual, the Ravens starters played little in the preseason, but when they did, they struggled to move the ball. Joe Flacco threw two touchdowns and four interceptions.

Against Atlanta, Flacco threw a 77-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith, but the remainder of the first team’s offense in that game included three three-and-outs and an interception in a span of five series. Against Carolina, the Ravens had an outstanding, 69-yard touchdown drive the first time they had the ball, but the next five drives ended with two punts and three turnovers.

But all of that is now behind them.

The roster is set. Yanda is back. The receiver picture has been cleared up. Starting tight end Ed Dickson should be ready to play, which would be his first game action of the preseason.

And offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and the Ravens will be spending this week – or actually has been spending weeks already – designing a game plan specifically to counter the Broncos.

The preseason, Rice said, was “a reality check to let us know where we were at that time. But we’ve gotten a lot better since then.”