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Ray Rice runs 4.38 during his workouts


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Rice working hard on his speed, drills and diet to prepare for NFL workouts

by Tom Luicci

Friday February 15, 2008, 3:00 AM

Photo By John O'Boyle / the Star-LedgerRutgers RB Ray Rice works out at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn.

Ray Rice barely has enough time to snap down one pass, tuck it away with his left hand and then toss it back when the next one comes. Earnest Byner, the former NFL star running the drill, isn't doing Rice any favors, either. The rapid-fire passes, all short and quick, come at the former Rutgers star at varying speeds and from different directions.

"That's the way to do it," Byner tells Rice. "Keep focusing."

The exercise lasts a few minutes and is one of several Byner put Rice through yesterday on the artificial turf at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn. It has been this way twice a day for about a month, since Rice declared for the NFL Draft after a junior year that saw him rush for a school-record 2,012 yards -- capped by a 280-yard performance in the International Bowl.

The Parisi program Rice is on now -- the training, the honing of football skills, the improved technique for running the 40-yard dash, the change in diet -- is all geared toward one thing: Next week's NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

That's when and where a player's NFL draft status is largely determined, with Rice, in a deep draft for running backs, generally viewed as a second or third-round pick.

"We've been working on his total game," said Byner, who played running back for the Browns, Redskins and Ravens during a 14-year career. "Ray's got a good mind. Like a sponge. It's open. The things we have worked on he has really taken to. When I ask him questions, he can give it right back to me. So Ray has done a really good job."

Those who see Rice these days won't notice much of a change in his physique. But there has been one.

After playing last season at Rutgers at 205 pounds, the 5-9 Rice weighed in at 199 yesterday. More significant, Rice said, is how his change in diet has affected his body.

"I came in here -- I'm not ashamed to say it now -- at 14.5 percent body fat," Rice said. "I'm at eight percent now."

He no longer eats fried foods, having replaced them with grilled chicken, fish and salads. The only thing he drinks now is water.

"Staying away from the fried foods was really hard at first," he said. "It's definitely hard going home and not having a home-cooked meal. I tell my mom and she understands.

"I'm going to stick to this. This is not just a diet for the Combine. I think I'll use this for the remainder of my career. I feel great waking up every morning since I started this. Working out twice a day, you'd think it would get tiring. It's more exciting to know that your body responds differently now to different activities."

Of course, it isn't Rice's eating habits that NFL scouts will be watching with a critical eye next week. His pass-catching ability and his speed -- particularly his 40 time --are the two big questions NFL folks want answered.

"He has the ability to catch the ball," said Byner. "It's something he hasn't done prolifically (in college) because he wasn't asked to."

Rice's game at Rutgers, where he set every significant school rushing record, was one of power, quickness and endurance. He carried the ball 910 times in three years and never missed a game.

But the speed issue continues to nag at NFL folks, especially considering Rice's size. It's no longer a concern to Bill Parisi, though. The owner of the Parisi Speed School -- which has 20 players working out in advance of the Combine -- has personally helped Rice improve his technique for the all-important drill.

"I believe they are going to be surprised," he said of NFL scouts.

Rice ran the 40 recently under Parisi's supervision, and neither one wanted to reveal what the time was "because we want to surprise everyone," Rice said.

When Rice was shown a number on a notepad that someone had been told, a 4.38 for his most recent 40 try, Rice smiled.

"That's pretty darn close," he said.

That's why Rice says he is so eager for next week to get to Indianapolis, though the 40 is the last major test on the final day of the Combine.

"It's going to be amazing when they actually see what I can run," Rice said. "I came here as a football player. Now I'm leaving as a skilled athlete. One thing you have to understand is the concept for training for the Combine. You have to change your mind-set.

"Of course the football stuff, meeting with the general managers, is important. But you're there for an event. It's like a track event."

Byner sees another aspect in Rice that he feels will help next week.

"Ray is a quality guy," he said. "Like a lot of us, Ray has a story. It's a story that has given him determination. He's determined to be an NFL back and I think he will do well."

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me4falcons (2/15/2008)
I like the guy but, he's small and really doesn't bring any that we don't already have with Norwood.

Not true he is like Jones Drew. Small but really powerful for his size. He is more of a power back than norwood is in general. Rice could actually be just like drew if he runs a 4.38 thats around drew speed.

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atljbo (2/15/2008)
i was just about to say that....dude is built just like jones-drew

they are both small but has huge legs.....thats why they both break tackles

p1_rice-getty.jpg

Ray_Rice.jpg

maurice-jones-drew-3.jpg

Man i want ray rice if he is a 3rd round pick. think about rice and Norwood, with Ovie paving the way, and goalline back. we could have do a Duece/ bush with ethier Norwood/ovie/rice. and rice rushed for a crap load of yards. i think we should get him if its in the right round.

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I don't see the comparison to Norwood except the 40 time. Ray Rice is a pure runner. Between the tackles is where you will see him do his best work. Powerful lower body and churns out yards. Very hard to find in the backfield before he's gone and it's too late.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck_5prAxNVY

Norwood does not find the whole well and stay inside enough. He bounces runs to the outside and relies on speed to get him to the corner. Doesn't happen all the time. When it does, he's in his element. A juke or two and he's gone.

Not the same runners.

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UGA_DAWG46 (2/15/2008)
He would be my fourth choice at Rb.

1. Jonathan Stewart

2. Rashard Mendenhall

3. Kevin Smith

4. Ray Rice

5. Matt Forte

6. Darren McFadden

7. Felix Jones

8. Jacob Hester Rb/ FB

9. Chris Boyd

10. Chris Johnson

So McFadden is the 6th best RB in the draft? Riiiiight.

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ajohnson1050 (2/15/2008)
I don't see the comparison to Norwood except the 40 time. Ray Rice is a pure runner. Between the tackles is where you will see him do his best work. Powerful lower body and churns out yards. Very hard to find in the backfield before he's gone and it's too late.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck_5prAxNVY

Norwood does not find the whole well and stay inside enough. He bounces runs to the outside and relies on speed to get him to the corner. Doesn't happen all the time. When it does, he's in his element. A juke or two and he's gone.

Not the same runners.

Both different is perfect, because they will complement each other. think about using them as duece and Bush were used. Norwood Situational back, and Rice the main back. Rice/Ovie up the middle, and Norwood the change of pace back.

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UGA_DAWG46 (2/15/2008)
He would be my fourth choice at Rb.

1. Jonathan Stewart

2. Rashard Mendenhall

3. Kevin Smith

4. Ray Rice

5. Matt Forte

6. Darren McFadden

7. Felix Jones

8. Jacob Hester Rb/ FB

9. Chris Boyd

10. Chris Johnson

That's probably the most twacked out depth chart I have ever read, I mean matt forte is way better that Mcfadden!!!! :w00t: wtf

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Legion (2/15/2008)
Do you, or do you not understand what power running game means?

?? you do not think ray rice can handle the power run game?? dude ray rice might be small, but he gots Powerbacks legs, which allows him to break tackles and run right thru the middle, which is exactly what we want.

Rice/Norwood would be perfect.

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Sting129 (2/15/2008)
UGA_DAWG46 (2/15/2008)
He would be my fourth choice at Rb.

1. Jonathan Stewart

2. Rashard Mendenhall

3. Kevin Smith

4. Ray Rice

5. Matt Forte

6. Darren McFadden

7. Felix Jones

8. Jacob Hester Rb/ FB

9. Chris Boyd

10. Chris Johnson

So McFadden is the 6th best RB in the draft? Riiiiight.

Yes, he is. If you look at his running style, he run straight up not low to the ground. That leave alot of room for big. And he fumbles quite a few time if hit hard. He can't really catch out of the back field. I think he is highly overrated. He stop his leg when he get tackle. His vision is average.

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scott hartley (2/15/2008)
UGA_DAWG46 (2/15/2008)
He would be my fourth choice at Rb.

1. Jonathan Stewart

2. Rashard Mendenhall

3. Kevin Smith

4. Ray Rice

5. Matt Forte

6. Darren McFadden

7. Felix Jones

8. Jacob Hester Rb/ FB

9. Chris Boyd

10. Chris Johnson

That's probably the most twacked out depth chart I have ever read, I mean matt forte is way better that Mcfadden!!!! :w00t: wtf

I actually really like the way Matt Forte runs the ball. He run low to the ground. Can make people miss. Can also lower his shoulder and hit a defender with great force. Very Slippery. Look at his size too. I think he'll fit in our new offensive scheme nicely.

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GEORGIAfan (2/15/2008)
ajohnson1050 (2/15/2008)
I don't see the comparison to Norwood except the 40 time. Ray Rice is a pure runner. Between the tackles is where you will see him do his best work. Powerful lower body and churns out yards. Very hard to find in the backfield before he's gone and it's too late.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck_5prAxNVY

Norwood does not find the whole well and stay inside enough. He bounces runs to the outside and relies on speed to get him to the corner. Doesn't happen all the time. When it does, he's in his element. A juke or two and he's gone.

Not the same runners.

Both different is perfect, because they will complement each other. think about using them as duece and Bush were used. Norwood Situational back, and Rice the main back. Rice/Ovie up the middle, and Norwood the change of pace back.

I agree. I want Ray Rice. And I want Norwood to get some time too. I say use them like Chester Taylor (157 carries 844 yds)/Adrian Peterson (238 carries 1,341 yds). Give them both offensive series to feel the game out and stay fresh on the sideline.

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I would not want to just hand the bulk of the ground game to a guy like Rice, who didn't necessarily play in the toughest conference and does not have great size for a feature back. If he's there in the third, he's definitely worth a shot and he could be a starter in the NFL, but it would be a risky pick any higher than that. There are a lot of solid ballcarriers in this class, but the only ones that should be full-capacity starters right off the bat are McFadden and Mendenhall.

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GEORGIAfan (2/15/2008)
Legion (2/15/2008)
Do you, or do you not understand what power running game means?

?? you do not think ray rice can handle the power run game?? dude ray rice might be small, but he gots Powerbacks legs, which allows him to break tackles and run right thru the middle, which is exactly what we want.

Rice/Norwood would be perfect.

Whatever you say. You know, the same was said for Norwood last offseason. He won't be a good power runner like you think. Jones-Drew is, but he's 5'7" 207lbs.

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Legion (2/16/2008)
GEORGIAfan (2/15/2008)
Legion (2/15/2008)
Do you, or do you not understand what power running game means?

?? you do not think ray rice can handle the power run game?? dude ray rice might be small, but he gots Powerbacks legs, which allows him to break tackles and run right thru the middle, which is exactly what we want.

Rice/Norwood would be perfect.

Whatever you say. You know, the same was said for Norwood last offseason. He won't be a good power runner like you think. Jones-Drew is, but he's 5'7" 207lbs.

who said that about Norwood?? Norwood has skinny calves. Norwood is more of a situational in the open rb, but Rice can go thru the middle.

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