"Ten carries in the preseason didn't [account] for the many reps I had in practice. I got the reps I needed," Rice said Thursday. "We played the game in practice. If you've been to our training-camp practices, they were pretty intense, and we played the game in practice. So yes, I am eager to get out there and play four quarters though because you're not just playing in a practice situation anymore. You're playing for the game and you're playing in a real game."
The two-time Pro Bowler enjoyed a career year in 2011, achieving career bests in rushing yards (1,364), rushing touchdowns (12), receiving yards (704) and receiving touchdowns (3). Rice, the organization's second-round pick in 2008, was rewarded with a five-year, $40 million extension that he signed in July.
Rice will continue to be a marked target by opposing defenses, but with the offense employing a no-huddle approach that takes advantage of quarterback
That sentiment didn't worry Rice.
"I always felt that as a running back, you evolve with the changes," he said. "Being that I've caught the ball really well, I think I fit well with this offense. Whatever it is – whether it's running the ball or passing [because] a catch to me is a long handoff – eventually you've got to make a play with that. Whether it's 15 rushes or 10 catches, I just think that as long as I'm fitting in the game plan a certain way, I'll be fine."
Added Flacco: "Running backs in the preseason, you've got to make sure they get a couple touches here and there, but are really fresh coming into the season opener because those guys take a lot of wear-and-tear on their bodies as the season goes on. So it's nice to have him ready to go and hopefully we can keep him healthy for a full 16 and make it to the playoffs."
Rice has been especially lethal against Monday night's opponent. Since 2009 when he became the featured tailback, Rice has scored a touchdown in five of six meetings, is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, and broke the 100-yard barrier in last season's sweep of the Bengals.
Rice downplayed his success against Cincinnati, saying, "You don't just run at a group like that. You scheme up runs and try to find out how they're fitting to play. You've seen that they play the run really well, but the big runs we had, there was usually one guy out of place or a missed tackle or maybe something that was schemed up. Against a great defense like that, you pick and choose when you run the ball. You can't just say, 'Every play, we're going to pound at them.' That's not smart. But I think we have a great plan to where we will run the ball, and it'll start with just executing what we have in hand."