Former Ravens running back Ray Rice.
Former Ravens running back Ray Rice. (Andrew Burton, Getty Images)

Now that Ray Rice has been reinstated by the NFL, sources with knowledge of the situation said that nothing concrete has developed quickly in terms of teams pursuing the former Ravens running back.

That was anticipated for Rice now that he's eligible to sign with NFL teams.

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Although Rice has already been linked to teams, including the New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, sources said nothing is imminent and nothing has been arranged as far as tryouts or visits. Conversations regarding Rice were characterized by sources as preliminary.

Sources close to Rice said he has been working out on a regular basis and is in shape and prepared physically and mentally to join a team for the stretch run heading into the playoffs. Rice is also realistic, according to sources, and realizes that playing for a team in 2015 is a more likely scenario.

Working against Rice is the public relations fallout that's certain to follow him after his high-profile domestic violence incident. Plus, the late-season timing of his reinstatement is another negative factor, along with a substandard 2013 season.

Rice struggled mightily during his last NFL season, climbing to 225 pounds and struggling with hip flexor and quadriceps injuries. He rushed for just 660 yards and averaged a career-low 3.1 yards per carry as his weight and injuries robbed him of his trademark explosiveness as he rarely broke a tackle.

Rice got in optimal shape during this offseason, though, getting down to roughly 205 pounds and showing flashes of his old form before he was suspended by the NFL.

"Definitely, Ray is in great shape," fullback Kyle Juszczyk told The Baltimore Sun. "He's got a lot of talent. He's a great football player."

Retired Ravens linebacker Brad Jackson is a close friend of Rice's who has maintained close ties to the former Rutgers star.

Jackson said that Rice is in a good state of mind and has been training regularly to prepare for a return to the NFL. He said Rice has even participated in flag football games for exercise and fun.

Jackson expressed confidence that Rice will get a second chance in the NFL.

"It's up to an organization to bring him and go through the whole process and get a feel for him because what he's been through is a polarizing topic," Jackson said. "Ray has taken 100 percent responsibility for his actions. America is a nation of second chances.

"What transpired is unfortunate, but the judge has made her determination and reinstated him. That's Step One and that shows he never lied to the commissioner by the judge ruling in his favor. Step Two is signing with a team. Step Three is something that's bigger than Ray Rice. That's for Ray and his wife as a couple, as a man and wife, to be leaders. We've seen plenty of people who've made mistakes in the past and correct their mistakes."

awilson@baltsun.com

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