Wednesday, August 12, 2015

No Rice, no way

News: Browns coach Mike Pettine reveals the club has discussed the possibility of signing free-agent running back Ray Rice.

Views: Here’s a piece of advice to General Manager Ray Farmer and his minions: Don’t. Talk about something else. Anything else. Just not that.

Ray Rice and the Cleveland Browns should never be uttered in the same sentence. The Browns have enough to worry about with Rice still a free agent. They don’t need the trouble that would accompany him.

“We have talked about it, but I don’t think we’re there at this point,” Pettine told Where “there” is is open to conjecture. Pettine would not be specific.

The question is why in the world would the Browns even consider a running back well on the downside of his career when an elevator surveillance camera caught him slugging his future wife more than a year ago?

Is the Browns’ running back situation so bad that position coach Wilbert Montgomery brought up Rice’s name? We’re just two weeks into training camp and nervous fingers are already reaching for the panic button.

Montgomery knows Rice. Coached him for six seasons in Baltimore.  So surely he must know Rice is nowhere near the running back he was in his first six National Football League seasons.

Rice is just 28 years old, considered by some the prime age for a running back. And yet, no NFL team has shown even the slightest bit of interest in him because he is considered toxic.

Until now.

Since Rice’s name has been brought up in the Cleveland Ivory Tower, the decision on whether to go after him certainly has spawned arguments pro and con. One con is how the public would react if they signed him.

Would there back a backlash by fans because Rice has become what one writer labeled “the face of the league’s domestic violence program”?

“I don’t think it has gotten to that point to say, ‘Hey, I’d kind of be comfortable with it,’ “ Pettine told “But I think it would get to that point if we arrived at it from a football standpoint then asked that question. Instead of working the process backwards, why bother with asking the question if the need never presents itself?”

It appears as though Montgomery is jumping to conclusions way too early with his current crop of running backs and invoking the name of someone generally looked upon with disfavor by the rest of the NFL. Rather than letting the situation play itself out during the exhibition season, he seems to have panicked.

It’s time for cooler heads to prevail and Pettine, at least on the surface, appears to have somewhat chilled the Rice talk. Not entirely, of course, which always leads to wild speculation.

If such talk reaches the locker room, perhaps it will serve as a slap in the face to running backs Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell and rookie Duke Johnson, whose performance are being counted on heavily by a team determined to make the running game the cornerstone of the offense.

If Ray Rice is going to get a second chance in the NFL, better he get that somewhere other than Cleveland.

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