The history of the NFL has countless examples of players who were once riding high losing their jobs to upwardly mobile backups, which makes it easy to understand why most players would sooner subject themselves to a Pauly Shore film festival before happily giving up playing time.
Ravens running back Ray Rice is zigging where most players might zag, however. Word out of Baltimore is that Bernard Pierce is in line for a bigger share of the touches out of the backfield after closing strong in 2012, something that Rice says isn’t bothering him at all. He sees Pierce as a player who brings different skills to the table, skills that the Ravens can use to inflict more damage on defenses early in games before Rice closes out the game.
“Sharing touches aren’t something that bothers me, because I know when it comes down to crucial situations, I’ll be in the game,” Rice said on the NFL Network, via the Ravens website. “And there’s not one running back that takes it all. There’s a few — Adrian Peterson and a few other guys — but Bernard’s a great backup, and he’s a great runner. … Going into our game plan, it’s hard to prepare for, you know, two guys that can come at you, rather than one.”
Pierce was used just about as often as Ricky Williams and Willis McGahee in past Ravens seasons, but an upward trend would make sense on two fronts. The first is that Pierce is early in his career as opposed to the two vets that used to be Rice’s counterparts and the other is that Rice isn’t as young as he used to be. A little less work now should help Rice’s chances of avoiding the kind of wear and tear that has sent many other running backs careening downhill as they get closer to turning 30 years old.