Leach shows versatility against Steelers


It's pretty easy to spot Ravens fullback Vonta Leach on the field. He's the one who looks like a bowling ball and is, more likely than not, hammering anyone and anything that happens to get in his way.

Leach's power was on full display against the Steelers on Sunday, as he absolutely flattened Casey Hampton -- that would be all 325 pounds of Casey Hampton -- on a 6-yard run by Ray Rice.

"It was just being a competitor,” Leach told BaltimoreRavens.com after the game. “It was a play we worked on all week and I don’t think he saw me coming. So, hey, I had a nice shot on him.”

He delivered several other punishing blocks as well.

But against the Steelers, Leach showed another part of his game, catching a season-high four passes out of the backfield for 40 yards. When he catches a pass in the flat and turns upfield with a full head of steam, the 6-foot, 260-pound Leach can be a load to bring down.

"I just took advantage of them running down the back side hard, and snuck out of the backfield," Leach said. "We just took advantage of what they were doing."

To be sure, Leach's bread-and-butter remains his blocking ability. That's what has landed him in the Pro Bowl twice, and that's why the Ravens signed him to a three-year, $11 million deal in August of 2011. They wanted a steamroller in front of Ray Rice. And the veteran has delivered, even earning a sweet watch from Rice as a thank-you present last season.


But Leach's receiving numbers against the Steelers were noteworthy. Only once in his nine-year career did he catch more passes than the four he caught on Sunday against Pittsburgh. For the season, Leach has 16 catches for 119 yards. He's averaged about 11 receptions a season, and his career-high is 25 receptions, in 2007.

"Obviously we got it in our playbook," Leach said, "so I guess if it's there, we'll call it."

There's been some criticism that the Ravens no-huddle offense, and its "diesel," two-tight end formation come at the expense of Leach, who frequently is not on the field in those situations. Leach at times has mentioned that he'd like to be more involved.

"We try to get all of our guys involved," coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday. "We have a lot of good players, and we want every good player involved all the time. If we had a player that didn’t want to be more involved, then I’d be concerned. So yeah, we want guys to be involved. Vonta is involved, and he is a huge part of what we do."