Joe Flacco: Ray Rice in good shape, showing explosion

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The Ravens don’t know when they’ll have running back Ray Rice in the lineup this season, but quarterback Joe Flacco thinks that they’ll get a better version than they had during last year’s disappointing campaign.

Rice lost weight this summer after struggling with hip and quadricep injuries last season and Flacco says that the difference in the running back was noticeable throughout the team’s offseason workouts.

“He’s definitely in good shape,” Flacco said, via the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t know if he’s any quicker or anything like that; you’ll have to ask him. I can say he definitely looks good and he’s running the ball well. Our guys are creating some room out there even with no pads on. We’re creating some room out there and some holes, and sometimes that’s tough to do in these kinds of practices. But I think we’ve looked really good and [Rice] has done a great job of pressing, cutting, getting in there and having the explosion afterward. He’s shown a lot.”

Even without the potential suspension for his aggravated assault arrest, this was shaping up as a pivotal season for Rice. He is coming off his worst pro season and the track record of running backs with years of tread on their tires isn’t one that holds any guarantees that he’ll rebound. Being in the best shape possible is going to increase the chances that he’ll bounce back, especially when he’s likely to be forced to spend time away from the team as the season gets underway.