When 22 veterans and five rookies worked out last week at Towson University, running back Ray Rice showed he has not been wasting his time during the NFL lockout. Rice looked sharp, quick and in condition during the first day of drills, when the media was allowed to watch.
And while Rice has worked diligently to prepare for the season, that's not the only thing he has focused on. Asked if he felt frustrated by the lockout and its ramifications, Rice gave a long and insightful answer.
"No, I try to stay positive," he said. "A lot of things I've been doing during this lockout is impacting kids' lives. And I don't even preach NFL to them. I preach school, I preach daily life to them. Where I'm at in my career, obviously I'm able to impact these kids' lives."
Rice has been working with kids in his hometown of New Rochelle, N.Y. As a star at Rutgers and now with the Ravens, he has their attention.
"Let's just say, if there was no more football, will I be in the Hall of Fame?" Rice asked. "No. Would I be in the record books? No. But will people know Ray Rice is a great person and a great football player? Yes. And I will use that opportunity to go out and impact kids' lives and let them know that you can go out and dream.
"I'm living my dream playing football. But obviously the game can be taken away at any moment. I try to stick to that kind of thing and obviously being around my teammates makes it that much more fun."
Rice has acquired a leader's wisdom in his three NFL seasons. He knows the temptations and dangers that are out there if he strays from the straight and narrow path.
"I've been enjoying my family a little bit," he said. "It's been an extremely good offseason. Obviously, I try to keep my nose clean, stay out of trouble and a lot of the things a rookie is going to have to do [involves] time management. I like to say I balance mine out pretty well."