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Ray Rice: I haven't lost a step for Baltimore Ravens

There are many reasons why the Baltimore Ravens' defense of their Super Bowl hasn't gone as planned. The struggles of Ray Rice are right near the top of that list.

Rice has fallen off a statistical cliff in his sixth season. The three-time All-Pro enters Week 10 with 259 yards on 97 carries, numbers that yield a scary bad 2.7 yards-per-carry average. Pro Football Focus ranks Rice as the game's worst halfback this season.

What gives? Has Rice, at 26, lost a step?

"Everybody has these situations," Rice said, via the Ravens' official website. "A down year is not going to make or break me as a person. I've been through a lot worse than averaging what I'm averaging in carries. I got broad shoulders. I'll take it."

"If you watch the film, you'd understand that we've been playing pretty good fronts," he said. "We've got eight games left, and that's my focus now."

Rice insists he's physically healthy. He suffered a hip flexor strain in Week 2, and it was clear the injury affected his explosiveness. He said before his Week 9 matchup against the Cleveland Browns that he was feeling better than he had all season. Then he went out and finished with 17 yards on 11 carries.

It was the fifth game this season in which Rice was held to 36 yards or fewer on the ground.

"I've been working on my health. My health is there," he said. "And now it's time to keep pushing for these next eight games, and win the ones that we have at home."

Rice should have some opportunities to get going in the next two weeks. His assignment against the Cincinnati Bengals got a lot less daunting when Geno Atkins went down with a season-ending knee injury last Thursday. That's followed by a date with the Chicago Bears, a run defense that made Brandon Jacobs look formidable this season.

If the old Rice is going to show up, it should happen soon.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" previewed "Thursday Night Football" and "stuck a fork" in the Raiders' 2013 chances.

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