HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – Some people in Houston have been so focused on Ray Rice that it can feel like he is the only offensive player that the Ravens have. Rice is certainly an enormous part of the offense–he is second in the NFL in all-purpose yards (behind Antonio Brown who had half of his yards on returns).
However, he was not the only one that killed the Texans in their first meeting. The Ravens, even outside of Rice, actually have a pretty balanced offense, which makes it hard to judge how to send extra players at Rice.
The Ravens’ starting wide receivers are surprisingly close in their statistical impact, even if their styles are very different. Anquan Bolden has been described as like Ray Lewis as a wide receiver, even before he was playing in Baltimore. Bolden embodies toughness and physicality at the wide receiver position.
Bolden will have to display some of that toughness to find any success on Sunday because he is coming back from knee surgery that was performed about two weeks ago. However, to think that he can’t is misjudging Bolden. He can absolutely come back and contribute. Bolden had a great deal of success in the first meeting between the two teams when he had eight receptions for 132 yards.
Even with the Texans’ CB Johnathan Joseph playing at a Pro-Bowl level and almost an All-Pro level, it is hard simply to man-up with Bolden on the outside because the Ravens’ Torrey Smith has had a very solid year for a No. 2 receiver. Smith exploded on the scene with a 152-yard, three-touchdown game in week three. He also had another game against Cincinnati with six receptions,165 yards and a touchdown.
With that type of explosiveness it would be disastrous for the Texans to ignore Smith, but they won’t do that because in their first meeting, he had three receptions for 84 yards. His 4.4 speed can have as much of an impact as the receptions he actually makes. Just like Andre Johnson makes a defense back up, the Texans must make sure that they don’t get beat over the top by Smith.
As a side note, he has been much better than Jacoby Jones, despite the struggles of a rookie wide receiver. Also Smith was drafted just two spots ahead of the Texans’ CB Brandon Harris, who has had zero impact on the season.
The third leg of the triumvirate not named Rice is the Ravens’ tight end Ed Dickson who stepped his game up in his second year in the league. Dickson has 54 receptions for 528 yards and five touchdowns. For as good as Owen Daniels is, and he is very good, Dickson is not far behind. Daniels finished the season with 677 yards and three touchdowns. What those stats don’t take into effect is that Daniels has an injured hand and may have trouble catching the ball as well as he normally does.
Ray Rice is a beast and there is no doubt that he is the engine that drives the Baltimore offense. But if that is all the Texans focus on, they will find themselves in trouble because the Ravens have enough other weapons to make them pay on the back end.