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Old 09-27-2010, 09:14 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

Rice's status for Steelers game unclear
http://mobile.baltimoresun.com/wap/n...s+game+unclear

By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun
Story posted 2010.09.27 at 08:38 PM EDT

Baltimore Sun News

Ravens running back Ray Rice has a "significant" bruise on his knee, making him the most critical question mark heading into Sunday's AFC North showdown at the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.

It is believed that Rice suffered a bruise on the front of his right knee after leaving in the fourth quarter Sunday. According to an observer, Rice walked out of M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night with the help of a crutch, but he was basically forced to use it by the team's medical staff.

Losing Rice would be a significant blow because he is the only player to gain over 100 yards rushing against Pittsburgh in 38 games. A magnetic resonance imaging exam on Monday confirmed that there was no cartilage or ligament damage.

Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that Rice still could start Sunday, when the Ravens (2-1) look to tie the Steelers(3-0) who play without Ben Roethlisberger atop the division.

"We'll just see how it goes," Harbaugh said. "You got to see how it heals throughout the course of the week."

If Rice is sidelined, the Ravens would replace him with Willis McGahee, their $3.6 million backup. The last time McGahee was the Ravens' feature back was the AFC championship game 21 months ago at Pittsburgh. He rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

McGahee brings a different style as a runner than Rice. While Rice uses change of direction to elude tacklers, McGahee delivers more of a punch. His stiff-arm at Oakland last season was perhaps the most memorable run of his Ravens career.

"Willis is 240 pounds and he brings it. He's a load," Harbaugh said. "I like the way Willis runs. I like his personality. I like the way he's practiced and the way he's prepared for the season. He'll be ready to go."

As the Ravens' red-zone running back last season, McGahee set career highs in yards per carry (5.0) and touchdowns (14). But there had been speculation that the Ravens were shopping around McGahee as recently as a week ago.

"Everybody on this team knows what Willis is capable of," tight end Todd Heap said. "We've seen him make play after play in this league for our team. It's good to have a guy of his caliber right behind Ray Rice. If Ray goes down, he's going to step up."

The results of Rice's test were viewed as positive by the organization. A bruise could sideline him for a week, but a sprain might have knocked him out for multiple weeks.

Rice injured his knee with about 10 minutes left in Sunday's 24-17 win over the Cleveland Browns. After catching a short pass over the middle, he tried to cut back and duck under nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin. But Rubin grabbed the back of Rice's jersey and forced him down to the ground. Rice's right knee bounced hard off of M&T Bank Stadium's FieldTurf.

He went to the huddle and initially lined up for the next play before Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco called a timeout. After the stoppage, Rice went to the bench, where the medical staff examined his knee.

Rice has had a slow start to this season after finishing second in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (an average of 127.6) last season. He ranks 21st in total yards (91.7) after three games this year.

"There are going to be injuries throughout the course of the season," Harbaugh said. "Hopefully, we've positioned ourselves with good football players to overcome them. I think we've done that, especially at running back and other positions."

Harbaugh added, "Ray Rice is a good player. We'd sure rather have him."

Besides the availability of Rice, here are other concerns heading into Pittsburgh:

Conduct penalties: The Ravens nearly beat themselves on Sunday because they couldn't keep their emotions in check. Almost half of the team's penalties were the result of getting out of control.

There was wide receiver Derrick Mason heaving the ball in the air for a delay of game penalty, safety Tom Zbikowski tackling Peyton Hillis when he was clearly out of bounds and offensive tackle Michael Oher retaliating against Robaire Smith after the Browns defensive end shoved Heap. That's three penalties in the second half for 35 yards.

Games with Pittsburgh are always extra emotional, so Harbaugh might want to remind his players about remaining disciplined.

You have to focus your energy and channel your emotion to the next play," he said. "When you move out of that, that doesn't help you play well. We have a passionate football team. We want to use our emotions as an advantage. Let's use them to help us win the game."

Pass rush: An emphasis in training camp was improving the pass rush. That hasn't shown up in the regular season so far.

The Ravens have recorded five sacks this season and managed two quarterback hits on Cleveland's Seneca Wallace. According to Harbaugh, the Ravens have gotten good push on one-on-one battles and have bull-rushed linemen back into quarterbacks.

"We want more sacks," he said. "We want more pressures. We want more quarterback hits."

Getting pressure on Pittsburgh's Charlie Batch is essential. He only got hit once Sunday and he threw for three touchdowns in a 38-13 win at Tampa Bay.

Punt returns: The Ravens' coverage teams showed a sense of urgency in how they shut down Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs. Now, the team has to figure out how to jump start the return game.

The Ravens are averaging a paltry 5 yards per punt return, which is the fifth-worst in the NFL. Zbikowski continues to field most of the punts, but Chris Carr has replaced him at times.

"I think he's making better decisions," Harbaugh said of Zbikowski. "Nothing was sideways. He ran north and south. I thought he was comfortable catching the ball. He was solid."

Run defense: The Ravens typically wouldn't worry about facing Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall, the NFL's fourth-leading rusher. But it's not a typical season when the Ravens allow a backup running back like Cleveland's Peyton Hillis to plow through them for 144 yards rushing.

Stopping the run has gone from a strength to a concern for the Ravens, who have given up 94 yards on the ground in their first three games.

"It's something you have to fix, but you have to wait until the next game to fix it completely," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "But they [the Steelers] are going to see some stuff. They're going to see some weaknesses, and they're going to see what worked and what didn't work. So we'll see what happens."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/jamisonhensley
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:46 PM   #2
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Default Re: Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

That would be a huge plus if he were to miss the game. He torched the defense last year.
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

good news for us. ray rice is the only player on the offense that scares me, he's by far their best player. mcgahee and mcclain will pick up a couple 5 yarders here and there but they don't give that whole 'oh shit they're gonna score a td if we miss a tackle' feeling.
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:24 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

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Originally Posted by Fire Arians View Post
good news for us. ray rice is the only player on the offense that scares me, he's by far their best player. mcgahee and mcclain will pick up a couple 5 yarders here and there but they don't give that whole 'oh shit they're gonna score a td if we miss a tackle' feeling.
I would worry about Boldin.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

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I would worry about Boldin.
i don't see him torching our secondary tbh. im more worried about heap and rice
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:29 AM   #6
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Default Re: Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

Neither Rice or McGahee want "none of this" Wouldn't surprise me if they both find a reason to sit this one out........especially McGahee.....he's sh!tting his pants right now. Probably rubbing Rices bruised knee......praying he's OK.

Stiller D is in the zone..... Theyre going to show everyone who the real badboys are.

Ray Ray can run on the field acting a fool and intimidate some folks, but that don't fly here....I hope he pulls that sh!t this week.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:32 AM   #7
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Default Re: Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

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I would worry about Boldin.
Boldin had his career game against the Stains....He'll be looking for the trainer and a little "time out" by the 2nd quarter this week too.
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Old 09-28-2010, 02:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

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Neither Rice or McGahee want "none of this" Wouldn't surprise me if they both find a reason to sit this one out........especially McGahee.....he's sh!tting his pants right now. Probably rubbing Rices bruised knee......praying he's OK.

Stiller D is in the zone..... Theyre going to show everyone who the real badboys are.

Ray Ray can run on the field acting a fool and intimidate some folks, but that don't fly here....I hope he pulls that sh!t this week.
mcgahee don't want none of ryan clark that's for sure
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Rice's status for Steelers game unclear

Ohhh the NFL BS that gets allowed to occur anymore.

i dont buy this crap. So he has a blue mark on his knee, suck it up.

As far as fearing Boldin? Well Flacco is still qb'ing and flacco is always one toss away from implosion, I'm not to worried about Boldin. Home game + Troy + the DEF= implosion is immenient for Flacco.
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