A day after Ray Rice got the fewest number of carries he's received in over a year, head coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens need to make more of an effort to get the ball to their Pro Bowl running back.
Rice saw just eight carries in last night's 12-7 loss to the Jaguars, and got 13 touches overall. He recorded only 28 rushing yards, his lowest mark since becoming the Ravens' feature back at the start of the 2009 season.
Harbaugh admitted that Rice needs to be a bigger part of the Ravens' game plan going forward, but couched those remarks by saying that the coaching staff found it tough to get Rice the ball given the extensive struggles of the offense.
"He's gotta get more than eight carries," Harbaugh said. "I also think when you're a playcaller, you're searching for things to get you going and get you jumpstarted. It wasn't like those eight carries were gashing them or anything, either. I think we were looking for some things that we could do, searching a little bit for a way to get a first down. It wasn't so much about, 'Hey, you know what? Let's get so many carries to Ray Rice or so many throws to any particular receiver.'
"We were just trying to find a way to beat the defense and get a first down and get going, because when you do that, that's when those carries start adding up. You go three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, it's going to be hard to get those carries stacked up too much. You go first down run and you get a yard, now you've got to start finding a way to get nine yards on the next two (plays). But, by the same token, eight carries is never going to be a winning formula for Ray Rice, there's no doubt about it."
There was a stretch during last night's game, after Rice nearly lost his second fumble of the contest, where the fourth-year back didn't get a single carry for 11:29 of game action.
Rice certainly didn't deliver his best performance last night, but given his credentials and significance in the Baltimore offense, it was a surprise to see the playmaking running back not get more attention from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Linebacker Terrell Suggs was critical of the Ravens' use of Rice after the game last night, saying, "Ray Rice, he's a phenomenal player, and you've got to use your phenomenal players."
Harbaugh was asked how he felt about a player publicly expressing his displeasure with the team's playcalling.
"I just look at the player," Harbaugh said. "I've got a lot of respect for Terrell Suggs and Terrell Suggs' heart is always in the right place. He's a leader on our football team. So, I listen to all of our guys, and definitely I listen to Terrell Suggs. Definitely, the way he's playing ... and the things he says are right. But that's what we're trying to do.
"It's not like we're not trying to do the things he's talking about doing. So, I think we're all on the same page on that."