Ray Rice really struggled in 2013. Perhaps he never fully recovered from a hip injury suffered in Week 2. Perhaps he simply wore down after a four-year average of 347 touches per season. You could definitely put some blame on his offensive line. Whatever the reason(s), offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was very clear on what Rice still means to the Ravens' offense: "I think as he goes, we'll go," Kubiak told the team's official website. "... We've got to get him going. That's the bottom line."
However, Rice won't be alone in the backfield work. Kubiak said "it's hard to hand it to one guy 30 times a game; they just get worn down." That's where Bernard Pierce comes in. While Rice could muster just 3.1 yards per carry this season, Pierce was even worse -- 2.9 yards per. But Kubiak wants to get him involved, similar to how he used Ben Tate to take some of the burden off Arian Foster with the Texans.
Pierce had 152 carries this season. Tate never topped 190 in any of his three seasons with Kubiak. So, Pierce might still an uptick, but Kubiak would probably like to give Rice 300-plus touches if possible. Therein lies the rub. Is it possible? Can Rice handle another year with a large workload? He is only 27, but there is a considerable amount of wear on his tires. And yes, that offensive line needs work. Plus, I thought the Ravens were interested in actually adding a running to this picture?
Whether Rice's body is up for the challenge, and if this season was really the beginning of the end for him are concerns that will surround Rice's draft stock through the summer.