By Edward Lee and Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun
6:24 PM EDT, July 26, 2011
After helping the NFL and its players lift the lockout and craft a new collective bargaining agreement, Domonique Foxworth is ready to get back on the field. The Ravens cornerback, who missed last season with a knee injury, said Tuesday that he has no desire to begin training camp on the team's physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list.
"I have the full intention of being out there and contributing right away," the Ravens cornerback said Tuesday, the first day players could report to the team's facility in Owings Mills to undergo physicals and other medical tests. "I don't know what their plan is, but I'm going to give them the best that I can give them and hopefully it means that I'm starting in Week 1."
Foxworth tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee the day before training camp opened last year. His return is considered crucial because cornerbacks Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are unrestricted free agents, and first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith still has to acclimate himself to life in the NFL.
For now, it appears that Foxworth and Lardarius Webb would line up as starters in the Ravens' season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11. But Foxworth cautioned against expecting too much from his surgically repaired knee.
"It's been up and down through the offseason, to be frank with you, where there were days when it felt great and days when it felt really, really bad," he said. "But lately, it's felt great. But the real important thing that I haven't been able to do is play real, live football. So before I get way ahead of myself and say this is as good as I ever was, I feel that way, but I need to go out there and go up against [wide receiver] Anquan [Boldin] and real Pro Bowl-caliber receivers to really measure. That's a little different than running out on your own."
More than worrying about his knee, Foxworth sounded somewhat concerned about his future in the NFL because of his involvement on the NFLPA's executive committee. Foxworth, who was cited by owners Monday for his consistent presence at negotiations, pointed out that players who have taken an active role in the union have endured retribution when their contracts end and it's time to find a new employer.
"It's not a secret that guys over the years and in the history of relationships with the players' association and the NFL, guys who are in the forefront, become really expendable, and they become black-balled around the league really soon," Foxworth said. "So I'm sure my day is coming. I had a talk with my wife about two years ago before I took a prominent role in the players' association, and she said it was OK. I know the worst thing they can do to me is throw me out. So she's comfortable with it, I'm comfortable with it, and we'll wait for it to happen. Until then, I hope I can ball out and do my thing for Baltimore until I'm out on my [butt]."
Rice ready to go
Running back Ray Rice passed his conditioning run Tuesday morning, and said he anticipates no problems heading into the start of training camp. Rice, entering his fourth season, had minor surgery on his knee to remove a small piece of cartilage that was floating around. The surgery occurred shortly before the 133-day lockout began, which is why it wasn't made public.
Rice said he elected to walk out of surgery instead of being pushed in a wheelchair, and the next morning appeared at a function which highlighted being physically fit to a bunch of school-age kids. The Ravens, though, still might limit Rice's work in training camp as a precautionary measure.
But Rice says there isn't any concern. Known as one of the team's hardest workers in the weight room, Rice looks fit and recently participated in the voluntary passing camp at Towson. He passed the conditioning test with no problems or even the slightest hesitation.
"The morning following the surgery I was speaking to kids and telling them about getting exercise and they were jumping and running all around," Rice said laughing. "I made sure they didn't hit me, but I wouldn't have gone out there if I had a limp or was hobbling. How would that have looked?
"After the surgery, I had to rest the knee for two-to-three weeks, which is part of the normal process. There was no pain, no swelling. Since then, I've participated in my usual workouts and most people know that I'm a hard worker. I haven't missed one workout. As for training camp, the Ravens have a plan. They are going to see how I feel and phase me in. They know they have to be smart with me, and I have to be smart as well. But everything feels great."
T. Smith doesn't anticipate holdout
Like several of his draft classmates, rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith took and passed his physical, but he did not take part in any conditioning tests.
In fact, he's not permitted to do so until his representation and the club hammer out a contract. But Smith, the team's pick in the second round of the draft, said he doesn't those negotiations to take too long.
"I think it'll be done quickly," Smith said Tuesday afternoon. "At least I hope so. I'm ready to play football. But I know it's definitely going to be hectic. Going up there, there's paperwork everywhere, and they're working hard. So hopefully something will be done soon."
Landry would prefer to stay
Of the 14 unrestricted free agents who could be retained by the Ravens, Dawan Landry is hopeful that his bags are staying in Baltimore.
Landry, a fifth-round choice in 2006, made 111 tackles last season, ranking second on the team behind linebacker Ray Lewis. But the club has a history of allowing Ed Reed's partners (Will Demps, Kim Herring, Jim Leonhard) to test the free-agent market, and Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura represent less expensive options at strong safety.
"I'd rather be a Raven," the strong safety said Monday. "I feel like we've built something here, and there's great chemistry on the team. I think we're almost at that next level. A play here and a play there and we would've been in the Super Bowl. It'd be nice to finish this thing that we started."
Last play still haunts Houshmandzadeh
The lasting image of the Ravens' 2010 season was wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropping what would have been a first-down pass on fourth-and-18 in the final two minutes of an eventual 31-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC divisional playoff game Jan. 15.
"I still haven't moved on," Houshmandzadeh, an unrestricted free agent who is hoping to latch onto either the Ravens or another franchise for an 11th season, said Monday. "I have a lot of pride about what I do, and I'm very, very competitive. … It ended in a terrible way, a way that I never thought it would have ended. But I don't know what's going to happen. I really don't. But I wish I would've played the way I normally play, and I didn't. So that's why I look forward to the end of the lockout because I wholeheartedly believe that things will be a whole lot different."
Herzlich signs with Giants, not Ravens
There were multiple reports Monday night linking the Ravens with Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, a cancer survivor who was arguably the most well-known undrafted free agent available.
But Herzlich posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning that he had chosen to sign with the New York Giants. "Decision is made I will be a GIANT can't wait to get to NYC. Thank you for everything."
Four undrafted rookies confirmed to signing with the Ravens are offensive linemen Ryan Bartholomew (Syracuse) and Justin Boren (Ohio State), running back Walter Sanders (St. Augustine) and wide receiver LaQuan Williams (Maryland).
Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.
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