With the NFL trading deadline approaching tomorrow, some took Willis McGahee's absence from yesterday's game against the Patriots to mean that the Ravens were considering trading the veteran running back and they didn't want to get him injured.
Head coach John Harbaugh said today that isn't the case at all, and made it clear that the Ravens are not thinking about trading McGahee.
"There is no Willis trade talk, unless there is something I don't know about, which I think is almost impossible," Harbaugh said. "There is absolutely no way he's being traded. He will be on our team this week and the rest of this season, and he'll be a huge part of what we're doing."
McGahee was one of only two Ravens who were active on Sunday that didn't see the field at any point throughout the 73-plus minutes of game action. Backup quarterback Marc Bulger was the other.
Harbaugh said that McGahee's lack of playing time wasn't related to any off-field incidents or behind-the-scenes issues ("Willis has been great. Willis is 100 percent on top of everything. Been working really hard. He's been tremendous."), but it was strictly a reflection of the Ravens feeling that Ray Rice gave them the best look throughout the game.
"I think to define it in an X and O sense, it's just week-to-week," Harbaugh said. "It's how you feel about how the game is going. I think the biggest thing is we felt good about Ray. It wasn't a defined plan that Willis wasn't going to see the field, by any stretch. I think we all felt that Willis was going to play.
"I think as we started calling the plays and Wilbert [Montgomery, running backs coach] and Cam [Cameron, offensive coordinator] were rotating the backfield, they just felt like Ray was going good. The plays we were calling were good for Ray. The team we were playing, the surface we were on was good for Ray, and we just decided to stick with Ray. But, you'll see plenty of Willis as we go forward."
Rice, who torched the Patriots for 159 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs last season, had 88 yards rushing on 28 carries yesterday, and added 38 receiving yards on eight catches. Fullback Le'Ron McClain also got three carries for seven yards and had one reception for four yards.
Harbaugh said that on a team that now features so many offensive playmakers, there is bound to be someone each week that doesn't get a lot of playing time or touches. This week, Harbaugh said, it just happened to be McGahee.
"The thing about our offense - we've got a lot of really good players," Harbaugh said. "It's a good thing, but it's also a thing [where] I think every week we're probably going to be answering these questions. Why didn't this guy get carries? Why didn't this guy get throws? That's probably going to be a weekly thing you guys are going to ask, which is going to be fair, but it's going to be tough to have everybody involved completely every single week."