On Monday, a dinosaur walked inside the
Rice, who is regarded as one of the top three players at his position, was a secondary option in the loss. After getting just 10 carries in the Week 1 win over the
The Ravens handed off to Lewis more than 20 times a game in his six seasons here and called his number more than 24 times a game during his franchise record-setting 2003 season. He thumped his way to 2,066 rushing yards that year and had four other 1,000-yard seasons. Lewis averaged 4.2 yards per carry in nine NFL seasons -- he played his three final seasons with the
As he put it, his style fit with those Ravens perfectly.
"I always felt that I was a defensive player playing on offense," said Lewis, who feels "pretty good," but wouldn't discuss his past concussions due to a pending lawsuit. "So, I think that's why I always ended up hanging around linebackers or the defensive side of the ball, because I wasn't the finesse type of guy."
And that’s why he believes that if he had been born a decade later, he might not fit in today’s game. His father raised him to be a hitter, and he sought out contact in high school and college, too. At Tennessee, all he did was break tackles, something that caught the eye of Newsome as he watched Lewis run over his alma mater, Alabama, in a Tennessee win before the Ravens drafted him fifth overall in 2000. Now the NFL has fallen in love with passing the football, and if a great runner isn’t a receiving threat, too, he will often find himself watching from the sideline. Only two running backs had 300 carries in the 2011 season. Meanwhile, the NFL as a whole set all-time highs in pass attempts (17,411) and gross passing yards (125,336), according to
"That's how football is. It evolves over time, and right now, it's about putting up a lot of points on the board. You usually don't get that out of the running game," Lewis said. "But, now, as far as the running back, I don't know if I would make it right now. I don't think there are enough carries being given to one running back. You don't find too many featured running backs in the league like you did in the past. Now, it's more of a by-committee type of thing. Mainly, I think, that's to keep guys fresh and to keep guys from getting injured and things of that nature. But, it has evolved, and you see a lot of passing, you see a lot of points going up on the board."
Now teams like the Ravens must find creative ways to keep modern feature backs involved in their offense. According to Football Outsiders, Rice is one of five running backs in NFL history with more than 200 carries and 60 catches in three straight seasons. (Marcus Allen, Roger Craig,
"If he keeps going, those numbers are going to keep on climbing," said Lewis, who retired in 2009 and who turned 33 last month.