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Ray Rice: 'I have the burning desire to come back ready to play'

OWINGS MILLS -- At a chiseled 212 pounds, Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has been staying in shape.

Although he has been working out on his own away from team headquarters, the unsigned franchise player is maintaining his conditioning.

"I actually have the burning to desire to come back, not only for myself, but to come back ready to play," Rice said Saturday at Calvert Hall during the first Ray Rice Day in Maryland. "Training is something that I never worried about. My training has always been part of my routine. Nobody ever had to beat me in the head to work out."

Rice didn't address his unresolved contract situation and has yet to sign his $7.742 million one-year tender. The Ravens have maintained a dialogue with Rice's agent, Todd France.

Under NFL rules governing franchise players, the Ravens have until July 16 to sign Rice to a new deal. Otherwise, he'll play the entire year under the tag.

Rice held court with 700 youngsters hanging on his every word as teammates Torrey Smith, Cary Williams, Vonta Leach, Lardarius Webb, LaQuan Williams, Anthony Allen and his mother, Janet Rice, attended the event.

"When we get to the season, I'm going to do my job and bring a Super Bowl back to Baltimore," Rice said at the beginning of his free football camp that filled up its limit of participants in 48 seconds.

Rice rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards last season and scored 12 touchdowns.

"This takes precedence over everything else that is going on," Rice said. "You got all the bad things in the world going on, and then look at these kids. They're nothing but smiles. This is, quite frankly, what I love to do. I love the kids, I love being active in the community.

"I'm trying to make it more than one day. I kind of feel bad for the kids that didn't get in. Being that I'm in Baltimore, I kind of wanted to do something more. You're always trying to go extra. I try not to leave anybody out, but to see the smiles on these kids' faces is priceless."

NOTE: Rice said he welcomed the arrival of third-round running back Bernard Pierce, who's the frontrunner to back him up this fall.

"One thing I know about the NFL, I've always said that one back really can't do it all anymore," Rice said. "I'd love for a guy to give me a spell or give me a breather. I was genuine and I was serious when I said Ricky Williams was the best thing to ever happen to me last year because this is the healthiest I've been."

Reach staff writer Aaron Wilson at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

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