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News » SPREAD OFFENSE: RAVENS BACKS ALL RUN TOGETHER


SPREAD OFFENSE: RAVENS BACKS ALL RUN TOGETHER


SPREAD OFFENSE: RAVENS BACKS ALL RUN TOGETHER
The best compliment an offense can receive is being described as unpredictable.


And that's what makes the Ravens' running game so dangerous.

Every week, any given running back can get the nod to carry the load. Even the coaching staff can't truly predict who it will be entering a game.

Will it be Willis McGahee? Ray Rice? Le'Ron McClain?

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the team wanted to give each back about 10 carries in the Philadelphia Eagles game. But McClain was the hottest back and finished with 88 yards on 18 carries.

"The best laid plans change oftentimes," Harbaugh said.

So if the Ravens don't know who is going to be the featured back, how can the opposing defensive coordinator?

The Ravens are breaking new ground this season. Of the top five rushing attacks in the NFL, they are the only team that has three backs with at least 90 carries.

The New York Giants, who have the NFL's top ground game, rely on Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. The Atlanta Falcons give the ball almost exclusively to Michael Turner, and the Washington Redskins do the same with Clinton Portis.

But the Ravens are more balanced than anyone.

McGahee leads the Ravens in carries (141) and rushing yards (489). McClain leads the team in touchdowns (six) and has finished as the leading rusher in four games, more than any other back. And Rice leads the Ravens' running backs in rushing average (4.1) and 20-yard runs (two).

The only way a running back-by-committee approach can work is when everyone involved takes it in stride.

This philosophy hasn't gone over as smoothly with the Tennessee Titans , who split carries between Chris Johnson and LenDale White. After the team's 34-13 loss to the New York Jets , White told reporters that he didn't care about a game when he was on the field for only three plays.

To McGahee's credit, he has yet to complain publicly about his disappointing season.

After gaining a season-high 112 yards at Houston, McGahee has not had double-digit carries the past two weeks.

The Ravens probably would lean on McGahee more if he were healthy. But he has had knee, rib, eye and ankle injuries this season.

Until McGahee can prove he can handle the workload, the Ravens are going to keep giving the ball to the best back that day. Even quarterback Joe Flacco can't guess which back will have the bigger game Sunday.

"We have confidence in all of them," Flacco said, "and we're going to give the ball to all of them."

Ravens RUNAROUND

The Ravens spread the ball around more than any of the top five rushing attacks in the NFL:

Team .................. Yards per game ............... Running backs with

........................................ ..........................................................90-plus carries

N.Y. Giants .................. 164.9 .................................................. 2

Atlanta ......................... 151.5 ................................................. 1

Washington ................ 143.7 ................................................. 1

Ravens ...................... 143.5 ................................................. 3

Minnesota ................. 137.9 ................................................. 1



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 29, 2008

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Gary Stills Name: Gary Stills
#56
Position: DE
Age: 34
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