For Ravens star cornerback Lardarius Webb, patience remains his watchword as he makes steady progress in his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in four years.
The Ravens' top cornerback suffered a right knee injury last October against the Dallas Cowboys that ended his season. Now, Webb forecasts a sound recovery for the upcoming season.
"I'm taking my time and I'm working hard," Webb told The Baltimore Sun on Thursday night while receiving a sportsmanship award for his work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Baltimore at their second annual Be Great Gala at the Inner Harbor Marriott. "It's going really well. I've stayed positive throughout this whole process. I'm going to be Lardarius Webb out there. I'm going to have the same heart I've always played with.
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"I'm going to do all my part. I like being in this situation. I'm coming off a little adversity, but it just puts a chip on my shoulder. It's about determination and how bad I want to get back on that field. I missed out last season and I was there for the ride, but I want to go to the Super Bowl again. The Lord won't put me through anything I can't handle. I take everything in stride."
Entering the second year of a $50 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus, Webb is being counted on heavily to provide leadership and a shutdown presence in the secondary for a defense that's in the midst of a major overhaul since winning the Super Bowl in February.
The Ravens lost middle linebacker Ray Lewis to retirement, cut strong safety Bernard Pollard and had the following players depart via free agency: free safety Ed Reed, Webb's primary mentor and close friend, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger and cornerback Cary Williams.
And the Ravens have acquired outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, defensive linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, free safety Michael Huff and former Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain.
"I'm excited to get with the new guys, some great ballplayers," said Webb, who made a fast return three years ago from a torn left ACL in his rookie season. "We're going to mold together and we'll be a great squad. My mindset is, 'We're still a great team. We're still the best team in this league.'
"They want to say we're not, but we're the champs and they can see it until they come take it. I'm not just talking stuff. We're the champs, and I want to be a part of that, so that's my motivation to get back on that field."
Webb said he won't rush his recovery and risk a setback, but emphasized that the prognosis is good for an injury surgically repaired by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.
And he's not concerned about a secondary, which will have three new starters after the loss of Reed, Pollard and Cary Williams.
"We have Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham and Chykie Brown, they're great football players," said Webb, whose $5 million option bonus was picked up by the Ravens this offseason. "I'm excited about the guys we have arond me."
A native of Opelika, Ala., Webb is excited about the arrival of McClain, a former Butkus Award winner and consensus All-American from Alabama and expressed confidence that he'll assimilate well to the Ravens' team chemistry.
A 2010 first-round draft pick selected eighth overall, McClain had a history of legal problems when he played for the Raiders.
"I'm a Roll Tide fan, so I know exactly who Rolando is and what he's about," Webb said. "Once he gets into our locker room and we lead by example and show him how we do things, it will be a great thing for him. He's a young man and he has so far to grow.
"Not taking nothing away from Oakland, I know the organization we have and the people we have in our locker room, it's going to be a great fit for him. We're ready to get him in and show him what we do."
Webb, 27, had 25 tackles, six pass deflections, one interception and a forced fumble in six starts last season prior to hurting his knee.
In four NFL seasons, the 2009 third-round draft pick from Nicholls State has 181 career tackles, eight interceptions and 41 pass deflections.
Even before Webb was drafted by the Ravens, he looked up to Reed and sought his advice.
Now, Webb is in a position where he'll be looked to for leadership.
"I've been here for four years with Ed, and we don't even really talk football all the time," Webb said. "Everything I could get from him, I've already got it. I looked. I paid attention. I watched him. I watched great leaders like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. They show you how to do it. I'm going to do all of my part to help this team win."