Rice struggles keep him under the microscope

Rice struggles keep him under the microscope
November 11, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Harbaugh: [The fans] got their money's worth

Ravens running back Ray Rice, who had another difficult game Sunday (18 carries, 30 yards), has been under the microscope all season for his lack of production. However, coach John Harbaugh said he was not considering making Bernard Pierce the featured back over Rice.

“Both of those guys are going to play,” Harbaugh said Monday. “What would that mean? One guy’s the featured back by definition? Whichever guy’s playing better should get more carries as we go forward. But Bernard’s had his hamstring issues the last five weeks which he seems to be coming out of.

"Ray’s had his hip issue since the second game, he seems to be coming out of that. Both those guys seem to be getting healthier," Harbaugh continued. "That’s a plus for us. You can’t have one back carry the ball 35 times nowadays. We don’t need to do that. We think we’ve got two very good backs. I don’t think that (featuring Pierce) would be the solution.”

Pierce only had limited success (eight carries, 31 yards) Sunday, and the blocking of the offensive line remains an issue.

“We need to get better with our run game,” Harbaugh said. “We gained a few more yards, but that to me is negligible because we’re not as successful as we need to be. We’re not even close. If it was one thing, you need to be able to fix it, or you have to throw your hands up and say it’s something that you can’t fix, cause you don’t have the answer. Neither one of those is true.

"The answers are there. It’s not just the run game, it’s the pass game that ties into it as well. But the bottom line is we gotta block better. There’s individual accountability for that. Within these walls, when we have our meetings, we look really hard at that. Guys probably take more blame than they should, but we’re all going to be held accountable, every individual player and coach. Collectively it’s gotta improve.”

Rice suffered a hip pointer in Week 2, which he has refused to use as an excuse. However, Harbaugh indicated the injury has been harder to overcome than Rice has admitted.

“You got to look at the numbers,” Harbaugh said. “Definitely it’s not the same. There’s no doubt about that. So what is it? It’s injury or it’s not as much as room to run, or it’s both. His health has been a factor, there’s no doubt about it. He’s working hard to become healthier. That’s important. You gotta assume it’s had an impact.”

If the Ravens’ running game does not improve, it could severely damage their playoff chances.