OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens seem to be adjusting well to new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
The Ravens have averaged a league-best 194 rushing yards in two preseason games. That’s a far cry from last year, when the Ravens ranked 30th in rushing. Their average of 3.1 yards per carry ranked last.
The running game is “where everything starts for us,” said Kubiak, who was hired after Jim Caldwell took the Lions head coaching job. “We’ve got to be able to run the football to make the rest of it go.”
The preseason numbers have been skewed a bit by the running of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has 65 rushing yards in two games. But there are many reasons the Ravens ground game should be improved this season.
The Ravens traded a future draft pick for former Buccaneers center Jeremy Zuttah to upgrade that position, and promising third-year guard Kelechi Osemele is healthy again after missing most of last season with a back injury.
Ray Rice appears to be lighter and stronger than a year ago. He has averaged more than 7 yards a carry in limited work this preseason. Last season Rice finished with 660 rushing yards, his lowest total as a starter.
Rice faces a two-game suspension to begin the season stemming from his offseason arrest on an assault charge, so Bernard Pierce is expected to start the first two games. Pierce has 92 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown this preseason. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro has run for a team-high 130 yards.
The Ravens had 151 rushing yards in a 37-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, and had 48 carries for 237 rushing yards in a 23-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers in their preseason opener.
“I feel good about the run game so far, and we temper that with the fact that it’s two games in the preseason,” coach John Harbaugh said. “What matters is what you do when it counts. So far, so good.”
The Ravens host the Washington Redskins on Saturday.
NOTE: Harbaugh canceled the team’s afternoon practice Wednesday and took the team to the movies instead. The team boarded buses to go see “Lucy” at a nearby mall. After a hard practice Tuesday, Harbaugh said he was just trying to “get them off their legs a little bit.”
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