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Ray Rice is Ready to Lead the Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens running back takes a break to talk to MF about how CrossFit got him in the best shape of his life, how he uses nutrition to boost his performance, and why he thinks he’s ready to take over from Ray Lewis as the leader of the Ravens.

MF: What kind of diet are you following these days?

RR: I’m trying to keep my weight during this season so I eat good carbs. I like pasta, especially if it’s whole wheat. I eat a lot of fish, and a lot of grilled chicken. I’m allergic to shellfish. I do like my daily oats, like oatmeal and egg whites. The biggest thing I’m trying to get into now is my nutritional shakes and stuff.

Aside from shellfish, are there any foods that you avoid because of how they affect your performance?

During the season I try to stay away from fried stuff. The only time I get a little antsy and eat something is obviously when my mom cooks it on a holiday or Thanksgiving. But I can get rid of it; I’ll run it out. My mom knows the deal. I’m trying to get her on a healthy plan as well. She knows when I come around I keep it pretty healthy.

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You started working with BodyArmor Superdrink this year. Why them?

I was training over the summer and I saw a bottle of BodyArmor, so I tried it. I read the bottle, because you obviously want to find out more about it, and it was great for hydration and energy—it had all the antioxidants. It was definitely for me, because one thing I wanted to do was make sure I was hydrated because I used to get full-body cramps. I was always depleted of water. BodyArmor has a lot of electrolytes, a lot of potassium, and the biggest thing that I’m big on now are the antioxidants. That’s the stuff that really sold me on the drink, but it tastes really good as well

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So where would someone actually drink this? Before a workout or a game? Or after working out?

I always like to drink it post-workout. But, obviously, if I was going to drink it for hydration purposes I would drink some before as well. Also, if I’m out the Friday before a game, for example, I would drink a lot of BodyArmor on Friday and Saturday so I don’t have to replenish my fluids again on Sunday. So I’m taking my hydration as far as possible.

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Speaking of football, this season the Ravens had two big changes right out the gate with Ladarius Webb and Ray Lewis getting sidelined with injuries. How did the team adjust to that?

One thing about the league that you know you should never do is replace a guy like Ray Lewis or Ladarius. But what you do is try to build around them or try to build into the void that they’ve left. We had our first home game without them and we got it handed to us pretty good by the Texans, but then bye week came at a great time and we were able to get ourselves healthy again for a strong push for the second half of the season.

Lewis is more than a player; he’s kind of like a leader for you guys, and a big motivator. Has someone stepped up to fill that leadership role, or is he still very much in that spot?

Well, you know what? Myself. I’m an offensive player, but I’ve got to be more vocal. On defense, a guy like Jameel McClain, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed—those guys are really vocal. They don’t want to replace what Ray has done throughout his career, but one thing we all try to do is carry his legacy and what he’s built, what he’s done for our organization. Not only as a football player, but as a man. We try to keep that up and we do what we gotta do.

You said yourself—do you feel like you’re taking on that responsibility to step up and lead the Ravens?

Of course. That’s my role now. Being my fifth year in the league, I have to be a vocal leader out there. I have to be the one to get the guys going. And although I’m still young in my career, I feel like it’s my time to step up and be a leader.

Joe Flacco doesn’t get the best treatment from critics. What do you say to commenters who say he’s been backing off a bit?

The quarterback is the toughest position in the game. The way Joe Flacco has deflected all the critics and naysayers, he’s just playing good ball right now. And obviously quarterback is just one of those positions where you’ve got to be able to deflect all of that, because it’s the most important position in the game. He’s done a great job with that. Me and Joe came in together and I’m forever going to be by his side.

What about your position? Do you feel like it’s evolved at all? The kind of guys you’re up against – do you feel like you need to evolve from season to season or is it the same deal from year to year?

It’s the same kind of deal. For me, I don’t really worry about who I’ve got to go up against. I just try to put myself in the best position possible to be successful for our team, whether that’s running the ball or catching the ball. Anytime I can be successful and help my team out, I’m doing a great job.

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