When Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine said this week the team has discussed signing Ray Rice it felt like either a trial balloon to gauge public sentiment or a shot across the bow of his young running back group.
It turns out it was probably a bit of both.
On Thursday, ahead of the Browns' 20-17 loss to the Washington Redskins, owner Jimmy Haslam told ESPN's Bob Holtzman he'd "like to see (Rice) get another shot" and would be OK if it were with his club.
Both Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer said it would be "premature" to talk about the possibility of signing Rice.
"Right now I'd say it's all premature in my mind," Farmer said, via ESPN.com. "We're interested in seeing what our young guys can do. Focused on them. Giving them the opportunity to demonstrate whether they can or they can't.
"I think we've got some talented young guys. Ray's had his career. We kind of know what he is. We think we know. There's a lot of tape."
Rice's last regular season game-tape -- in 2013 -- was no bueno and he averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. However, by all accounts in 2014, Rice looked slimmer, more fit and ready for a return to form.
Farmer said Rice's name has been discussed, "But like everybody else's name. Like Pierre Thomas. There's a bunch of guys whose names have come up."
Added Pettine: "We are comfortable with where our (running backs) room is."
Isaiah Crowell (four carries for 6 yards) and Terrance West (four for 10) didn't exactly set the world on fire Thursday night and Duke Johnson didn't play due to injury.
Whether the Browns decide to add Rice or another veteran depends on the young group's performance the rest of the preseason. But at least Farmer and Pettine know they have the owner's backing should they decide to bring Rice in.
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