Ray Rice has had an offseason to forget.
By his own admission, he failed to meet the expectations set upon himself as a member of the NFL. He entered into a pretrial diversion program after allegedly striking his now-wife Janay Palmer at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The NFL then punished him for two games without pay and fined him the value of a 2013 season game check, which didn't sit well with a lot of people that thought he got off lightly.
As Rice has had to face the aftermath of his image taking a major hit in the public eye, he's apparently increased his work ethic on the practice field. Via The Baltimore Sun, Rice has impressed the Ravens' coaching staff throughout the preseason thus far.
“Ray has looked really good,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Comparisons to years in the past, we’ll find all that out during the season, but he’s in tremendous shape. I’m seeing him make a good lateral cut. He has really good burst, acceleration is there, vision is there.”
Rice lost 20 pounds this offseason with hopes of getting back to the quick and agile running back of seasons past. A year ago, Rice was horrible on the field, totaling just 660 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games behind an offensive line that lost the point of attack on most plays.
At this point, all Rice can do is to serve his suspension and move on. When the Ravens are on the road, he'll hear his detractors loud and clear. Therefore, he probably has no choice, from a football standpoint, than to make sure he improves from the level he was at in 2013.
Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt