In one of the last innings of Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb's charity softball game that pitted the offense against the defense at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen on Sunday afternoon, Ray Rice lobbed a pitch that rookie free safety Christian Thompson leaned into. After cornerback Chykie Brown and defensive tackle Bryan Hall pretended to charge the mound and tackle Rice, the running back turned to several of his offensive teammates in one dugout and pleaded for their assistance. "I haven't signed yet," he yelled. "Y'all need to help me!"
Joking aside, Rice's appearance was his first with teammates since being designated the organization's franchise player in March. Because he has not yet signed his franchise tender, Rice is not under contract and is not required to participate in the team's offseason workouts.
Rice did not provide an update of negotiations between his representative and the team, saying, "Honestly, I just let my agent [Todd France] take care of all of that stuff. I just stay in shape and come out on days like this to get some fresh sun. I know the business side always takes care of itself. I know I've put myself in that position to kind of let it dwindle out and whatever it is at the end of the day, hopefully I'll be out there soon."
The Ravens have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal. If not, Rice, 25, would play the 2012 season under a one-year guaranteed contract for $7.7 million.
Rice, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and scored a franchise-record 15 touchdowns last season, acknowledged missing opportunities to work out with his teammates and getting familiar with the playbook.
But he also emphasized that he is adhering to his own regimen and can take solace in knowing that he is familiar with many of the concepts laid out by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
"You've just got to understand what's going on," Rice said. "Once you understand what's going on, you kind of separate yourself from it and control what you can control, and that's always staying in shape and being ready when your time comes."