Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine admitted to SI.com's Don Banks on Aug. 11 the team has discussed signing free-agent running back Ray Rice. Rice missed the entire 2014 NFL season after the Baltimore Ravens released him and the NFL suspended him in relation to a domestic assault incident.
Could Ray Rice end up playing for the Cleveland Browns?
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Browns head coach Mike Pettine admitted the team has been thinking about signing Rice. Pettine spoke with SI.com's Don Banks about Rice on Aug. 11.
Banks asked Pettine if the Browns want to fortify their running back corps. They currently have Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and Duke Johnson.
"We've talked about it," Pettine said. "But I don't think we're at this point."
He then referred to Rice's ties in the Browns organization. Cleveland running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery worked with Rice for six years. Pettine was a Ravens assistant defensive line coach and outside linebackers coach.
Because of these, Pettine told SI.com the Browns can't avoid talks about Rice:
"Of course it's a natural question here because of Wilbert and because I was with Ray when he was a Ravens rookie (in 2008) and know a lot of people in Baltimore.
"Obviously Wilbert was his position coach for Ray's first six years in the league (2008-13). I'm not going to say it didn't come up in a discussion, but at this point we're not there yet."
Pettine insisted the Browns would only sign Rice if the situation calls for it, per Banks:
"I don't thik it's gotten to that point to say, 'Hey, I'd kind of be comfortable with it.' But I think it would get to that point if we arrived at it from a football standpoint, then ask that question.
"Instead of working the process backwards. Why bother with asking the question if the need never presents itself?"
Montgomery has been disappointed with his three running backs' performance. They reported to training camp in poor shape. This prompted Montgomery to tell SI.com that "nobody wants the role."
To compound the Browns' woes, both West and Johnson are battling injuries. West has a calf strain. Johnson has an injured hamstring, per Banks.
According to Banks, Montgomery is the only running backs coach Rice has ever worked with. Rice became a three-time Pro Bowler under Montgomery's guidance. He also topped 1,100 rushing yards from 2009 to 2012.
Other NFL teams continue to ignore Rice. Banks attributes this to a career-worst 3.1 yards-per-carry average in 2013. That year, Rice finished with just 660 rushing yards.
Rice sat out the entire 2014 NFL season. He figured in a domestic violence issue when he hit his fiancee in a New Jersey casino elevtor in Feb. 2014. The Ravens released him and the NFL suspended him afterward.
Cleveland.com's Terry Pluto said many Browns fans are inquiring about Rice. Pluto says many fans emailed him about the possibility.
Pluto would rather wait for Cleveland's running back situation to improve in a few weeks. He is having some doubts about Rice because of his mediocre play in 2013. Pluto prefers the Browns signing Chris Johnson instead.
However, the Arizona Cardinals offered Johnson a one-year deal on Tuesday. League sources confirmed this to ESPN's Dianna Russini.
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