Ravens running back Ray Rice recently paid a visit to general manager Ozzie Newsome, and it wasn't a routine meeting.
The three-time Pro Bowl runner had just completed the worst season of his NFL career, gaining just 660 rushing yards and averaging 3.1 yards per carry -- the lowest numbers Rice has generated since becoming a full-time starter four years ago.
Rice has repeatedly vowed to rededicate himself to regaining his old form, saying he's willing to get back in optimal condition. Rice played at a heavier weight this season and also dealt with hip flexor and quadriceps injuries that robbed him of his explosiveness and tackle-breaking ability.
Newsome says he came away from his conversation with Rice convinced that the running back will have a resurgent season in 2014.
"I think Ray is committed to being as good a football player as he has been," Newsome said Wednesday during a state-of-the-team press conference at team headquarters. "We had great dialogue yesterday on what we think we can do to help Ray to get there. But that combination of us having an understanding and a willingness to provide some help to him, and him having a willingness to work his butt off, we will again have a Pro Bowl running back in Ray Rice next year."
At just 26 years old, it was surprising to see Rice's production fall off the way it did, but as the article states he was dealing with injuries and coming off of a Super Bowl run the previous season (and that likely wore him down). Newsome's comments are encouraging, but John Harbaugh recently said that the team could take more of a committee approach at running back, which would limit Rice's upside.