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Kyle Juszczyk: Ray Rice video 'caught everybody off guard'

Ravens FB Kyle Juszczyk weighs in on the release of his former backfield-mate.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Even though each player on an NFL team has the same logo on their helmet, they can form into their own cliques based on position. Given that Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk was a member of the Ravens backfield, by default he'd spend more time than most with Ray Rice during the week.

After news broke of Rice's release and subsequent indefinite suspension, I spoke to him in the Ravens locker room to get his reaction.

"Ray was always a great teammate, I think that's one of the things he taught everybody," Juszczyk reflected. "He was always professional when he was here, a hard worker, he had a lot of positive traits that were passed along."

The mood was certainly somber around the Under Armour Performance Center. Before what transpired at Revel Casino in February, Rice had previously held a reputation as a model teammate.

"I think it probably caught everybody off guard," he said. "I feel like our organization, that's their job to handle it and ours is just to play. We're moving on and we're focusing on Pittsburgh."

Focusing on Pittsburgh is already a difficult task, especially given the fact that the Ravens only have four days in between games. Now that something non-football related has impacted the entire team, Juszczyk is doing his best to stay focused on the task at hand.

"I think maybe for some other teams that might be a problem but we're a mentally tough team and I think this is something we can handle," he said. "We're going push forward and we're going to worry about Pittsburgh."

Back to football

Juszczyk is entering his second season in the league and his first as a starter. Even thought the fullback is a dying breed in football, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's West Coast system is something that Juszczyk should flourish in given his combination of catching ability, speed and size. After a strong showing in the preseason, Juszczyk was virtually nonexistent (much like the rest of the Ravens offense) in their Week 1 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Coach Kubiak talked in the preparation for the game that we have a lot of weapons on our offense and we don't rely on just one guy to get us through," he said. "I think the way the game played dictated the personnel we were in and it just happened to be that I wasn't out there as much as I had been before.

"I don't think it was anything personally against me or anything else, I think it was just how they were playing us."

Moving forward, Juszczyk will need to be relied upon to keep opposing defenses honest. If so, he's going to have to be on the field more than the 18 plays he was out there on this past Sunday and only targeted in the passing game once.