Punishing former Ravens fullback Vonta Leach still wants to play, staying in shape

The Baltimore Sun

For a decade in the NFL, fullback Vonta Leach built a reputation as of the most intimidating lead blockers in the game by delivering punishing hits that rattled linebackers' heads.

Leach displayed uncommon pop as a blocker and was able to regularly jolt defenders out of the way with his superior strength and leverage.

Now, the former Ravens and Houston Texans All-Pro fullback is a free agent hoping to play another year or two in the NFL after being cut by the Ravens in February.

The 32-year-old doesn't intend to retire at this time and has been engaging in what he calls "Organized Vonta Activities" as he continues to run and lift weights each day to remain ready in case a team calls him.

"Oh yeah, I'm staying in shape," Leach told The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview from his North Carolina home. "I still want to play, and I'm staying in shape. We'll see how it goes. I'd rather get a call and be ready than get a call and not be ready. I work out every day, twice a day, and I'm doing good.

"A lot of teams and coaches have sent text message to make sure that I'm staying in shape. You never know when you might get that call. I'm played in this league a long time. I know how this business works. You've got to be ready."

Signed to a three-year, $11 million contract by the Ravens in 2011, Leach helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII over the San Francisco 49ers. The 6-foot, 262-pound fullback opened up big holes for star running back Ray Rice and was named to his third Pro Bowl.

A contract dispute led to his release last year but re-signed Leach in August to a two-year, $2 million deal that included a $1.16 million signing bonus. Leach's playing time dwindled last season as the Ravens struggled to run the football and finished 30th in rushing offense.

Leach played just 44 snaps over the final six games, including a dozen snaps during the final three games.

Leach is hoping for a final act in the NFL with a winning football team, doing the blue-collar work of plowing holes and knocking people down.

A former undrafted free agent from East Carolina who entered the NFL with the Green Bay Packers and also played for the New Orleans Saints, Leach created a legacy as one of the toughest fullbacks to play the game. Should he not get another shot in the NFL, Leach says he's satisfied with what he's accomplished in football.

"If not, if something doesn't happen, then, from a guy who was undrafted and made All-Pro three times and won a Super Bowl and got paid good money to play the game he loves, you can't ask for more," Leach said. "I can't complain. I can go down the road quietly and feel good about myself."



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