Ray Rice says he's healthy enough to play Sunday

September 30, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

While Ray Rice deferred the final decision to coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens running back said he is healthy enough to play in Sunday's AFC North showdown at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rice continued to show no sign of a limp in the locker room and practiced for the first time since sustaining a contusion on his right knee.

"I feel great," Rice said in his first comments to reporters since injuring his knee Sunday. "I'm sure I'll be ready to play."

Rice is the only player to gain over 100 yards rushing against Pittsburgh in 38 games. He also has averaged 76.3 yards rushing against Pittsburgh, which is the best average of any running back against the Steelers defense since 2008.

The Ravens are playing it safe with Rice at practice, making him wear a red jersey (which signifies no contact). But he doesn't plan on wearing any extra padding to protect the knee at Heinz Field.

"That would limit me," Rice said.

Despite the heated emotions in this rivalry, Rice isn't worried about the Steelers specifically aiming for his injured right knee.

"I don't think they're dirty," he said. "I don't think anybody has the intent to go out there and hurt anybody. I have respect for them, they have respect for us. I don't think it's going to be one of those situations where they're going to take a blatant shot at the knee."

Rice said he injured his knee late in Sunday's 24-17 win over the Cleveland Browns by planting wrong. He was extremely relieved to hear there wasn't any ligament damage.

"It was new life to find out what it was and that everything was going to be all right," he said.

Rice seemed more assured about his status for Sunday after working out on the side Wednesday. While his teammates practiced, Rice tested himself by cutting and running.

"If I'm able to do the things I can do and be the Ray Rice I can be, there's no question on whether I'll play or not," Rice said.

He said that the day of the game will be "the ultimate test" on whether he's ready.

"That decision will be up to coach," Rice said. "He'll see how I look in practice. Right now, I feel great."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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