The Lions’ running game is in bad shape, but they haven’t considered signing the newly-reinstated Ray Rice, as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes. “We haven’t considered that at this point,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said.
Rice played for Caldwell when he served as quarterbacks coach in 2012 and as offensive coordinator in 2013, so he has an idea of what Rice is capable of when everything is clicking. Rice ran for 1,143 yards in 2012 with 478 yards receiving on his way to his third career Pro Bowl selection. However, last season, Rice gained only 660 yards on the ground with 321 receiving yards.
The Lions have one of the very worst rushing offenses in the league with just 81.67 yards per game this season and an average of 3.33 yards per carry. Joique Bell has been the team’s leading rusher with 581 yards on 164 carries, good for just 3.5 yards per carry. Reggie Bush has been largely ineffective as he battles injury and while Theo Riddick has shown some promise, the former sixth-round pick is hardly a world beater. George Winn, the fourth tailback on the depth chart, primarily plays special teams.
Still, the Lions may be desperate for help, but it doesn’t appear that they’re desperate enough to withstand the public relations nightmare that would come from signing Rice. Caldwell sees Rice returning to the field at some point, but it sounds like it won’t happen in Detroit.
“I’m not real sure what will happen to him in the league,” Caldwell said. “Certainly I do believe in second chances, as I have mentioned on several occasions and at some point in time I think he will get one. When that’s going to happen, I don’t know.”
The Colts and Saints, despite their denials, are reportedly two of four teams to have shown interest in Rice since his reinstatement. The Cardinals and Falcons also have running back needs but it’s unknown whether they’ve considered or reached out to the embattled running back.