Matt Lawrence's once-solid position among the Ravens running backs doesn't appear quite as strong.
Coming off a 2010 campaign wiped out by a knee injury, Lawrence missed four days of practice last week and sat out the team's preseason opener last Thursday for unspecified reasons. Throw in the team's decision to sign Ricky Williams to a crowded backfield that includes starter Ray Rice, Jalen Parmele and rookies Anthony Allen and Damien Berry, and Lawrence would appear to have an uphill climb.
But the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Lawrence said his development has not gone off-track.
"I think I'm right where I should be," he said. "I think everything is working out. I go as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they may."
Two years ago, Lawrence, 26, proved his value on special teams, ranking fifth on the Ravens with 16 tackles before suffering a knee injury that earned him a spot on injured reserve on Nov. 24.
Last season, Lawrence attempt to return, but the knee did not heal as expected, and he was not activated from the team's physically-unable-to-perform list.Like any competitor, Lawrence hated watching from the sideline, but he said he tried to look at the big picture.
"I wouldn't say it was a setback. I would say that it's all for the better good," he said. "Sometimes, taking a step back is hard, but injuries happen. I got hurt, but I made the most of it, and I got to really see the offense and understand schemes and plays and defenses and fronts and coverages and formations and shifts and all that type of stuff. I got to focus on little details. And now, I know more and look at more things than I did before."
Lawrence took part in the first seven days of training camp, but then suddenly was absent for four consecutive days. Lawrence declined to elaborate on his absence, but during his absence, the Ravens snapped up Williams, the fifth-most prolific rusher among active players.
Lawrence praised Williams, saying the veteran would be a valuable resource for the team's stable of young tailbacks. But as for whether Williams would cut into reps that Lawrence might be getting, he downplayed that notion.
"You can't control things like that," Lawrence said. "You just control what you can control. you've got to like the fact that they signed him, and you get to learn from him and see what he does. At the end of the day, you'll get your reps and you'll be that much more polished."