Ravens Notes: Rice, Butler, Smith

Joe Flacco has been keeping a close eye on the progress of running back Ray Rice this offseason, and says the former All-Pro has looked impressive, writes Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun“He’s definitely in good shape,” said Flacco. “I don’t know if he’s any quicker or anything like that; you’ll have to ask him. I can say he definitely looks good and he’s running the ball well. Our guys are creating some room out there even with no pads on.” Rice has reportedly dropped 20 pounds this offseason after struggling with injuries and performance in 2013.

Here are some other notes from around the Raven offseason:

  • Undrafted rookie Jeremy Butler has already gotten off to a good start with the Ravens, writes Wilson. Butler has been talking to receivers coach Bobby Engram since before the draft, and the two have big hopes for their union. “I bring that physicality to the table and overpower defenders,” said Butler. “I’m just a hard-nosed Ravens style player. I can bring that element to the offense.”
  • The Ravens struggled on offense last season, but they hope that the fireworks will return in 2014, writes Clifton Brown of CSNBaltimore.com. The team ranked 30th in the NFL in big plays (run plays of 10+ yards or pass plays of 25+ yards), but Brown writes that with big-play weapons Jacoby Jones and Rice back and healthy, new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak should be able to move the ball down field.
  • Another big play receiver, Torrey Smith, is looking for a new contract, but there might be a few bumps to smooth out on the way to an extension, writes Brett Foote of EbonyBird.com. Smith plays like an elite wide receiver at times, but also has a reputation as a one trick pony. Deep threats that do not provide versatility usually have ceilings on how much they are valued, and Foote compares Smith’s potential contract to the likes of the deals received by Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson, both of which average less than $9MM per year.
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