Rice ultimate new-age RB

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, August 3, 2012, at Ravens practice at the team's...

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, August 3, 2012, at Ravens practice at the team's headquarters and practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (QMI Agency/JOHN KRYK)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:55 PM ET

OWINGS MILLS, MD. - Those who think running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL should listen to Ray Rice.

In a sitdown interview with QMI Agency on Friday, the Baltimore Raven explained why it's no coincidence he's one of the game's premier backs.

"I'm not taking away from the guys who line up every day and go between the tackles and do their thing," Rice told me at the Ravens' headquarters and practice facility, "but I just think there's more to the game now.

"If you're a running back and you can't catch as well as you run, you're going to find yourself weeded out pretty quickly."

Rice is the ultimate dual threat in that regard.

He led the Ravens in receptions last season, with 76 for 704 yards. Combined with his 1,364 rushing yards, Rice led the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,068.

He and Marshal Faulk are the only players in NFL history with multiple seasons of 1,000 yards rushing and 700 yards receiving.

"As running backs, we've got to evolve with the changes," he said. "It used to be, 'We gotta give it to a guy 20, 25 times to win the game.' Some guys still think that. But I think when talent is changing — guys that can run faster, jump higher — you've got to change. As long as you can evolve with the change, then you'll sustain yourself in the league."

Rice laughed when asked if he thought that way in high school, where he grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., or in college, where he starred at Rutgers in New Jersey.

"No! That's why I'm trying to school (young running backs) now.

"There's going to be games when you're going to need to carry it a lot, don't get me wrong. But if you think you can take 25 carries week in and week out, try it. You'll be done in three years.

"In the NFL, you're talking about grown men now. You're not dealing with little kids anymore. You're dealing with people who have mastered the game of football, just like you can master the game of chess. And the jump from college to pros is even greater than high school to college."

Let's be clear, though. Rice — who is heading into his fifth year in the league — can pound it with the best of them when necessary. He's built for that too, standing only 5-foot-8 and weighing 208 pounds during the season, he said.

He's only 25 years old, and has been to two Pro Bowls.

Just two weeks ago, the Ravens rewarded Rice with a five-year, $40-milllion contract, with $24 million of it guaranteed.

He says the best part of that isn't the money because, as he points out, if the Ravens had just kept franchise-tagging him, he'd get good money.

Rather, it's that he's — well, a homebody. He was born and raised in one city, and the prospect of having to become a nomad of sorts in free agency upset him.

"I'm not real good with moving around. I was more frustrated with the franchise tag because I was only guaranteed to be here for one year.

"You want a blanket of security to know where you're going to be for the next few years in your life ... But now to be here — one team, one organization the rest of my career? That'd be great."

The Ravens have reached the playoffs every year with Rice. The team is coming off back-to-back 12-4 seasons, and was an agonizing missed field goal at New England away from reaching the Super Bowl.

The goal this year? Simple.

"If you don't come into the season and say the No. 1 priority on your list is to win the Super Bowl, then quite frankly you're not even going to contend," he said.

"The playoffs? We expect to be there. We've been there. But getting to the Super Bowl and winning it is the ultimate goal. And that should be the goal of all 32 teams — to win the Super Bowl. To win multiple Super Bowls."

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/krykslants/

It's a good thing NFL training camps start opening Tuesday.

If the off-season had gone on much longer, teams might have needed replacement players to fill out rosters.

A slew of players have been suspended, or will be, for transgressions ranging from performance-enhancing drug use, to DUIs, to pot possession, to assaults -- even a mother slapping.

Those doesn't even include the four players commissioner Roger Goodell suspended in the Bounty-gate scandal.

But we can forget about all that now.

Time to discuss things that are really important in this world, such as how soon the Jets might replace Mark Sanchez with Tim Tebow.

Between Tuesday and the following Monday, teams begin preparing for the 2012 season.

The first exhibition game is the traditional opener -- the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The New Orleans Saints play the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Aug. 5.

Four weeks of preseason games later, the regular season kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 5 when the New York Giants play host to the Dallas Cowboys in prime time. All other teams kick off Sunday, Sept. 9, or Monday, Sept. 10.

Here's a quick-hit training-camp preview for all 32 teams-- along with the national preseason TV schedule, plus our Top 5 preseason Top-5 lists.

--

AFC EAST

NEW ENGLAND

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Foxboro, Mass.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 vs New Orleans, Aug 20 vs Philadelphia, Aug 24 at Tampa Bay, Aug 29 at NY Giants.

LAST SEASON: 13-3, Super Bowl loser

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Can all those new defenders (five free agents, six draftees) drastically improve league's fifth-worst defence?

NEW YORK JETS

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: State University of New York in Cortland, N.Y.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 at Cincinnati, Aug 18 vs NY Giants, Aug 26 vs Carolina, Aug 30 at Philadelphia.

LAST SEASON: 8-8

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Can Rex Ryan focus the team amid another (likely) Revis holdout and Tebow/Sanchez circus?

BUFFALO

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 vs Washington, Aug 17 at Minnesota, Aug 25 vs Pittsburgh, Aug 30 at Detroit.

LAST SEASON: 6-10

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Woeful defence is upgraded, but can Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson, Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, et al, put up expected bigger numbers behind a questionable OL?

MIAMI

WHEN: Opens Friday.

WHERE: Home practice facility in Davie, Fla.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 vs Tampa Bay, Aug 17 at Carolina, Aug 24 vs Atlanta, Aug 29 at Dallas.

LAST SEASON: 6-10

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Will eighth overall draft pick QB Ryan Tannehill be ready to start at any point this year, let alone by Game 1?

AFC NORTH

BALTIMORE

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Owings Mills, Md.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 at Atlanta, Aug 17 vs Detroit, Aug 23 vs Jacksonville, Aug 30 at St. Louis.

LAST SEASON: 12-4, AFC final loser

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Will their traditionally tough defence remain stout, with star LB Terrell Suggs gone till '13 (Achilles), two starters and three backups lost to free agency, LB Ray Lewis yet a year older, and S Ed Reed still flirting with retirement?

PITTSBURGH

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 at Philadelphia, Aug 19 vs Indianapolis, Aug. 25 at Buffalo, Aug 30 vs Carolina.

LAST SEASON: 12-4, playoff wildcard

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Will 1-2 draft picks OG David DeCastro and OT Mike Adams shore up the Steelers' only major weakness last year, the OL?

CINCINNATI

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Cincinnati.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 vs NY Jets, Aug 16 at Atlanta, Aug 23 vs Packers, Aug 30 at Indianapolis.

LAST SEASON: 9-7, playoff wildcard

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Were the Bengals a flash in the pan in '11, or can the dynamic rookie duo of QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green and a vastly under-appreciated, strong defence get even better in '12?

CLEVELAND

WHEN: Opens Wednesday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Berea, Ohio.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 at Detroit, Aug 16 at Green Bay, Aug 24 vs Philadelphia, Aug 30 vs Chicago.

LAST SEASON: 4-12

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Deposed-in-waiting QB Colt McCoy, admirably, isn't going down without a fight, but does he really have a shot at holding off first-round draft pick Brandon Weeden?

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON

WHEN: Opens Saturday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Houston.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 11 at Carolina, Aug 18 vs San Francisco, Aug 25 at New Orleans, Aug 30 vs Minnesota.

LAST SEASON: 10-6, division champ

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: The Texans still appear to be the class of the division, especially on offence, but can the defence overcome the losses of DE Mario Williams, LB DeMeco Ryans and CB Jason Allen?

TENNESSEE

WHEN: Opens Saturday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Nashville.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 11 at Seattle, Aug 17 at Tampa Bay, Aug 23 vs. Arizona, Aug 30 vs New Orleans.

LAST SEASON: 9-7

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Will Jake Locker progress to the point that he can unseat veteran Matt Hasselbeck at QB?

JACKSONVILLE

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Jacksonville.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 vs NY Giants, Aug 17 at New Orleans, Aug 23 at Baltimore, Aug 30 vs Atlanta.

LAST SEASON: 5-11

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: It's not whether QB Blaine Gabbert can hold off Chad Henne; he can and will. Rather, it's for how much longer disgruntled RB Maurice Jones-Drew will extend his spring holdout.

INDIANAPOLIS

WHEN: Opens Sunday

WHERE: Anderson University in Anderson, Ind.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 12 vs St. Louis, Aug 19 at Pittsburgh, Aug 25 at Washington, Aug 30 vs Cincinnati.

LAST SEASON: 2-14

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Can No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck turn heads as a rookie on such a talent-bereft club?

AFC WEST

DENVER

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Englewood, Colo.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 at Chicago, Aug 18 vs Seattle, Aug 26 vs San Francisco, Aug 30 at Arizona.

LAST SEASON: 8-8, division champ

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: It all begins and ends with this: Will Peyton Manning's repaired neck hold up?

SAN DIEGO

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Home practice facility in San Diego.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 vs Green Bay, Aug 18 vs Dallas, Aug 24 at Minnesota, Aug 30 at San Francisco.

LAST SEASON: 8-8

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: The Chargers lost a ton of talent to free agency, but signed a bunch. Can perennial hot-seat sitter Norv Turner pull all the new pieces together in one summer?

OAKLAND

WHEN: Opens Monday

WHERE: Napa Valley Marriott in Napa, Calif.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 13 vs Dallas, Aug 17 at Arizona, Aug 25 vs Detroit, Aug 30 at Seattle.

LAST SEASON: 8-8

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Can the team that barely missed the playoffs avoid a step backward behind a new GM, new coaching staff and new franchise attitude that disowns its undisciplined, rebel image?

KANSAS CITY

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 vs Arizona, Aug 18 at St. Louis, Aug 24 vs Seattle, Aug 30 at Green Bay.

LAST SEASON: 7-9

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: It's Year 4 in KC for QB Matt Cassels. Once and for all, is he the point man to lead an effective offence that can complement the Chiefs' tough D?

NFC EAST

NEW YORK GIANTS

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: University of Albany in Albany, N.Y.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 at Jacksonville, Aug 18 at NY Jets, Aug 24 vs Chicago, Aug 29 vs New England.

LAST SEASON: 9-7, Super Bowl champ

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Mario Manningham is gone, Hakeem Nicks is coming off a broken foot and there's no established tight end. Can Eli Manning continue his ascension toward the NFL QB pantheon?

PHILADELPHIA

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 vs Pittsburgh, Aug 20 at New England, Aug 24 at Cleveland, Aug 30 vs NY Jets.

LAST SEASON: 8-8

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Michael Vick said it last week -- the Eagles have the talent to be on the verge of a dynasty. Will Andy Reid have all those stallions pulling in the same direction this year?

DALLAS

WHEN: Opens Monday

WHERE: City of Oxnard Fields in Oxnard, Calif.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 13 at Oakland, Aug 18 at San Diego, Aug 25 vs St. Louis, Aug 29 vs Miami.

LAST SEASON: 8-8

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: If Dez Bryant has indeed reverted back to head-case form, which WR is Tony Romo supposed to rely on now in order to prove he's an elite QB, which few Cowboys fans seem willing to believe?

WASHINGTON

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Ashburn, Va.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 at Buffalo, Aug 18 at Chicago, Aug 25 vs Indianapolis, Aug 29 vs Tampa Bay.

LAST SEASON: 5-11

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: You can cut-and-paste this one for the next few seasons. Was RG3 really worth all those high draft picks?

NFC NORTH

GREEN BAY

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Saint Norbert College in De Pere, Wisc.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug at San Diego, Aug 16 vs Cleveland, Aug 23 at Cincinnati, Aug 30 vs Kansas City.

LAST SEASON: 15-1, division champ

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Will Charles Woodson succeed at safety?

DETROIT

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Allen Park, Mich.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 vs Cleveland, Aug 17 at Baltimore, Aug 25 at Oakland, Aug 30 vs Buffalo.

LAST SEASON: 10-6, playoff wildcard

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Can the secondary be anything other than an embarrassment in 2012?

CHICAGO

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 vs Denver, Aug 18 vs Redskins, Aug 24 at NY Giants, Aug 30 at Cleveland.

LAST SEASON: 8-8

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: How much better will WR Brandon Marshall make QB Jay Cutler and the Bears' offence?

MINNESOTA

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 at San Francisco, Aug 17 vs Buffalo, Aug 24 vs San Diego, Aug 30 at Houston.

LAST SEASON: 3-13

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Presuming RB Adrian Peterson isn't yet able to fully participate in camp after ACL surgery, can Toby Gerhart provide enough of a ground game to give QB Christian Ponder a chance to improve?

NFC SOUTH

NEW ORLEANS

WHEN: Opens Wednesday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Metairie, La.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 5 vs Arizona in Canton, Aug 9 at New England, Aug 17 vs Jacksonville, Aug 25 vs Houston, Aug 30 at Tennessee.

LAST SEASON: 13-3, division champ

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Despite all the distractions, can Drew Brees and the record-setting offence pick up where they left off?

ATLANTA

WHEN: Opens Thursday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Flowery Branch, Ga.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 9 vs Baltimore, Aug 16 vs Cincinnati, Aug 24 at Miami, Aug 30 at Jacksonville.

LAST SEASON: 10-6, playoff wildcard

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Can new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter develop a dangerous enough rushing attack to take more pressure off QB Matt Ryan?

CAROLINA

WHEN: Opens Saturday

WHERE: Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 11 vs Houston, Aug 17 vs Miami, Aug 26 at NY Jets, Aug 30 at Pittsburgh.

LAST SEASON: 6-10

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Is there enough talent besides QM Cam Newton, especially on defence, for the Panthers to make a playoff run?

TAMPA BAY

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Tampa, Fla.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 at Miami, Aug 17 vs Tennessee, Aug 24 vs New England, Aug 29 at Washington.

LAST SEASON: 4-12

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Does new head coach Greg Schiano have enough parts to make his smashmouth rushing attack effective in Year 1?

NFC WEST

SAN FRANCISCO

WHEN: Opens Friday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Santa Clara, Calif.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 10 vs Minnesota, Aug 18 at Houston, Aug 26 at Denver, Aug 30 vs San Diego.

LAST SEASON: 13-3, NFC final loser

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: If any of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham or rookie A.J. Jenkins can provide a legit threat at WR, can QB Alex Smith really make the Niners offence dangerous?

ARIZONA

WHEN: Opens Tuesday

WHERE: Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 5 vs New Orleans in Canton, Aug 10 at Kansas City, Aug 17 vs Oakland, Aug 23 at Tennessee, Aug 30 vs Denver.

LAST SEASON: 8-8

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Fair or not, the Cards' prospects hinge entirely on QB Kevin Kolb. Is he able to raise his game enough in '12 to lead the team back to the playoffs?

SEATTLE

WHEN: Opens Saturday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Renton, Wash.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 11 vs Tennessee, Aug 18 at Denver, Aug 24 at Kansas City, Aug 30 vs Oakland.

LAST SEASON: 7-9

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: Tarvaris Jackson will get the first-team training-camp reps, and the Seahawks spent a high draft pick on Russell Wilson. Is Pete Carroll sold on free-agent phenom signee QB Matt Flynn?

ST. LOUIS

WHEN: Opens Sunday

WHERE: Home practice facility in Earth City, Mo.

PRE-SEASON GAMES: Aug 12 at Indianapolis, Aug 18 vs Kansas City, Aug 24 at Dallas, Aug 30 vs Baltimore.

LAST SEASON: 2-14

COMPELLING CAMP QUESTION: New coach Jeff Fisher says he is all-in with QB Sam Bradford, the first overall draft pick in 2010. Can Fisher find ways to protect Bradford enough to allow him to regain his battered confidence?

---

TOP 5 PRE-SEASON GAMES

1. Aug. 9, Denver @ Chicago: Peyton Manning's first game not as a Colt -- and his first game action, and thus the first time he'll be subject to getting hit, since January 2011. Julius Peppers, rev your engines.

2. Aug. 18, NY Giants @ NY Jets: We can see the "Tebow vs Eli" comparative-stat charts now.

3. Aug. 25, Indy @ Washington: It's "Who's No. 1, Luck or RG3?" all over again.

4. Aug. 25, Pittsburgh @ Buffalo: For at least one quarter, it'll be fun to see how many times the new Bills pass rush can pierce the revamped Steelers OL and get into Ben Roethlisberger's grill.

5. Aug. 5, Hall of Fame Game, New Orleans vs. Arizona: Most interested TV viewer will be Sean Payton, the Saints head coach who is suspended until February.

TOP 5 QUARTERBACK BATTLES

1. NY Jets: Sure, Mark Sanchez is the starter. In stone. For now. But the world is dying for a QB controversy, and Tim Tebow's helmet is strapped on tight.

2. Cleveland: As far as Browns supporters are concerned, incumbent Colt McCoy is to rookie Brandon Weeden what a prop-job B-25 bomber was to the B-52 when it hit the skies.

3. Miami: Even if Ryan Tannehill will hold a clipboard to start Year 1, who wins between Matt Moore and newly acquired David Garrard?

4. Seattle: What if ex-Packer Matt Flynn can't beat out Tarvaris Jackson? Or even hold off rookie Russell Wilson?

5. Jacksonville: Blaine Gabbert, coming off a horrific rookie year, has a leg-and-a-half up on free-agent signee Chad Henne.

TOP 5 TEAMS MOST RELIEVED THE OFF-SEASON IS OVER

1. Detroit Lions -- That they'll still have 90 players in camp is a minor miracle.

2. New Orleans -- The sooner all the suspensions expire, the sooner everyone can start forgetting about the B-word.

3. New York Giants -- Seems the only time anyone talks about them is when they win big games, which is often under Tom Coughlin.

4. New England -- Bet they can't wait to slap a straitjacket on Gronkowski and lock him in a hotel room between practices.

5. Green Bay -- The Packers go 15-1, and all anyone remembers about the '11 team is it choked in the playoffs and couldn't stop anyone.

TOP 5 LIKELIEST HOLDOUTS

1. Steelers WR Mike Wallace

2. Jets CB Darrelle Revis

3. Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew

4. Lions LB Cliff Avril

5. 49ers S Dashon Goldson

TOP 5 OFF-SEASON INJURIES

1. Pro Bowler Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, torn Achilles, while working out. Prognosis: Likely out till '13.

2. Pro Bowler Eagles OT Jason Peters, torn Achilles, while working out, which he tore again two months later in May after tripping in protective boot. Prognosis: Out till '13.

3. Giants WR Hakeem Nicks, broken right foot, during May OTAs. Prognosis: Back some time during camp.

4. 49ers OLB Darius Fleming, Fifth-round draft pick tore ACL during rookie minicamp. Prognosis: Out till '13.

5. Patriots HC Bill Belichick, bruised ego, after NFL Films showed him telling his defence to not worry about Mario Manningham on Giants' final drive in Super Bowl. Prognosis: Maybe the humble pie helped.

TOP 5 OFF-SEASON PHRASES

1. "It's the latest twist in the Bounty-gate saga..."

2. "The NFLPA has filed another grievance...."

3. "Another Detroit Lion was arrested last night..."

4. "Roger Goodell defended his decision to..."

5. "Terrell Owens' latest failed stunt to get back into the NFL involved..."

 


Videos

Photos