We all know about the offensive line problems that plagued the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. We all know how badly the Ravens missed the toughness and clutch play of Anquan Boldin. One thing that’s going pretty under the radar, however, was how much they were probably hampered by releasing preseason stud running back Bobby Rainey.
The Ravens tried to sneak Rainey through waivers, but the Cleveland Browns, who love to poach players from the Ravens, nabbed him. Rainey didn’t do much with the Browns as they unceremoniously threw him back on the trash heap. He was then scooped up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and did an admirable job filling in for the injured Doug Martin.
Although Rainey only averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 2013, he had three games averaging over five yards per carry and two games with over 100 yards rushing. On the other hand, Ray Rice only averaged over five yards per carry and rushed for over 100 yards in just one game. Both happened against the Chicago Bears defense, one of the worst in the league.
Going away from stats, you could say that Rainey was healthier this year and had that “spark” that Rice seemed to be missing all year. Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered at all since he’d be running behind the Ravens’ porous offensive line. Then again, when you think of the five Ravens losses by six points or less, you’ve got to think that Rainey could have been the difference in at least one of those.
It’s impossible to tell, but I truly believe that Rainey could have broken off of a big run in one of those games, which would have put the Ravens at 9-7 and in the playoffs for the sixth straight year. It’s also impossible to tell how many carries he would have gotten, but it is just something I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks.
On an interesting side note, Rainey was waived in favor of rookie center Ryan Jensen, who didn’t play a snap in 2013 due to a foot injury. The Ravens could have just put Jensen on IR and still kept Rainey. Who says preseason games don’t matter now?
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