At 5-foot-8 and 212 pounds, Ray Rice isn’t the biggest NFL player by any stretch, but the Baltimore Ravens running back plays a lot better and recently was rated the 56th best player in 2011 in a list compiled by the NFL Network.
The Ravens are banking on Rice’s talents to spark their offense again this season as both a runner and receiver. In 2009, Rice became one of just eight players in NFL history to run for more than 1,000 yards and also tally more than 700 receiving yards.
With the way Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron uses Rice, lining him up in different spots on almost every down, defenders are uncertain how he’ll get the ball. But more often than not, he gets it from quarterback Joe Flacco.
This past season, Rice Rice ran for 1,220 yards on 307 carries and also caught 63 passes for 556 yards. When his 2009 numbers included — 1,339 yards rushing on 254 carries with 78 catches for 702 receiving yards — Rice has an eye-popping average over the past two seasons.
He tallied 280.5 carries for 1,279.5 rushing yards and 70.5 catches for 629 receiving yards on average, which isn’t too bad. Still, there were five running backs rated higher on the list up to No. 11. The top 10 players have not yet been revealed.
Atlanta’s Michael Turner (42nd), Steven Jackson from the St. Louis Rams (38th), Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles (33rd), Houston’s Arian Foster (25th) and Tennessee’s Chris Johnson (13th) were rated higher than Rice. Johnson has been among the NFL’s best backs in recent years, so that wasn’t unexpected.
However, Turner has a larger body of work with less success. He had 1,699 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2008, but that dropped to 871 yards in 11 games in 2009 and 1,371 yards last year. But he doesn’t have nearly the pass-catching skills, as Turner has 34 career catches.
Jackson has 7,948 career yards and 47 touchdowns with six straight 1,000-yard seasons after a rookie year as a backup. And he does have the pass-catching ability with 327 career receptions for 2,670 yards.
Charles has also played just three seasons with an average of 1,293.5 yards rushing the past two with 42.5 catches for 382.5 yards as well.
Foster has played just two seasons with limited playing time as a rookie, but 1,616 rushing yards last season. He also had just six catches.