OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Ray Rice was hardly even bruised during the preseason as the Baltimore Ravens preserved their all-purpose running back for the regular season.
The Pro Bowl runner only touched the football 13 times during the preseason, rushing eight times for 30 yards and catching five passes for 56 yards.
Now, a well-rested Rice figures to be heavily involved as the Ravens prepare for Monday night’s season opener against the New York Jets.
Rice joined WFAN’s Boomer & Carton Friday morning to comment on the trash talk that’s been flying between the two teams all week long.
“We can’t really play the game by talking it,” Rice said. “One thing we know is this is going to be a really physical game.”
The former Rutgers star rushed for a career-high 1,339 yards in his second NFL season. He also caught 78 passes for 702 yards. Only Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson ranked ahead of Rice’s 2,041 all-purpose yards from scrimmage.
“I feel great,” he said. “It’s the best I’ve ever felt. Our training camp was physical. It felt good to get tackled during training camp by our guys. You don’t necessarily want to be tackled by another team, but I feel fresh going into this game. It feels great to know that you got your workload in camp, but now you’re ready to play the regular season.”
The game means a little bit more to him because it will be held near his hometown of New Rochelle, N.Y. He says he has requested 35 to 40 tickets for friends and family for the game at the new Meadowlands stadium.
“It’s a new stadium, my family is up there and I’m trying to get my high school coaches to come,” he said. “I’m trying to make it a special event.”
The Ravens aren’t worried about Rice being rusty. They’ve seen him enough in practice to be convinced that the 5-foot8, 212-pounder is ready for another big season.
“Hopefully, he’ll come out ready to go,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “You know what Ray can do, so I expect him to come out and do all that — have some good carries, be effective first in the pass game.”
But the Jets are the league’s reigning top-ranked defense from last season, featuring a strong front seven anchored by nose guard Kris Jenkins and inside linebackers David Harris and Bart Scott.
“We both play that physical game,” Rice said. “It’s going to be who out-executes each other. I don’t think it’s going to be a first-quarter knockout. I want the game to go four quarters. That way, our true testament and will, will come out.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.