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Ravens expect Rice will be suspended

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It appears that Ray Rice will be punished by the NFL following his misconduct this offseason.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Rice has endured a fall from grace over the past 12 months. He was at the top of his game in 2012, continuing his reign as one of the league's more productive running backs and earned his five-year, $35 million contract from the Baltimore Ravens.

He also earned a reputation as a player with a good reputation off-the-field through his work with kids in Baltimore.

But now the former second round pick out of Rutgers is in the midst of the worst offseason of his career as he embarrassed not only his image, but also the image of the Ravens and the National Football League. And it appears that the NFL is preparing to provide disciplinary action on Rice for his actions, according to ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen.

With the Ravens anticipating a suspension for Rice, the opportunity now exists for Bernard Pierce to become the No.1 running back in Gary Kubiak's offense, and hold the position even if Rice were to return from his suspension.

Even though owner Steve Bisciotti has openly supported the embattled tailback this offseason, he could have tough decisions to make next year if Rice has two consecutive subpar seasons. Rice had 660 rushing yards and four touchdowns last season, which were both the lowest since his rookie season in 2008.

It could become difficult for the organization to pay the steep price for a player who isn't making a positive impact either on or off the field. This could be the opportunity for Pierce and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro to earn carries early in the season, and never turn back.

Rice is expected to address the local media at 3 p.m., according to the Ravens.

UPDATE: Following Rice's press conference, Mortensen said on NFL Insiders that he expects that Rice will be suspended at least three games.