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"My heart was telling me that I still wanted to play football, and importantly, my body said that I could still play football," said Chris Canty on his reason to return another season. "Once I came to that realization, it was an easy decision.” (Kevin Richardson)

For the past two years, veteran defensive end Chris Canty has lined up with the Ravens' starting defense.

Since being cut after last season and later re-signed to a two-year, $4.65 million contract, Canty doesn't envision his status being any different and expects to retain his starting job.

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"I've been a starter in this league for a decade, I don't really see that changing," Canty said. "That's what I foresee. Things change. It's a very fluid situation, but that's what I have in mind for my role being on this football team on our defensive unit."

Canty could face competition for playing time from defensive end Brent Urban, who's returning this year after being sidelined for his entire rookie year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. They're expected to work in tandem regardless of who's the primary starter.

Canty, 32, has run with the first-team defense this week during a minicamp that marks his first participation with the Ravens this offseason after missing three voluntary organized team activities.

"After they showed me the door?" Canty said when asked about his feelings on being back with the team. "It actually feels good having a chance to be around the guys for the first time this offseason. I feel really good where I'm at with my training. Being out here this week gave me some insight on some things I want to work on by continuing the training process to get my body ready for the regular season."

Canty contemplated retirement for roughly a month this offseason before deciding he still wanted to play. He visited the New York Jets after the Ravens released him and canceled a scheduled visit with the Seattle Seahawks before re-signing with the Ravens on a deal that includes a $1.5 million signing bonus and a $1 million base salary for 2015. The second year of his contract is a team option with a $2 million base salary and a $150,000 option bonus.

"It was an opportunity to take a step back from the game," Canty said. "I just really took some time after the season after I was able to get away from it to see what direction do I want to go in and my heart was telling me that I still wanted to play football and importantly my body was telling me I still could play football. Once I came to that realization, it was an easy decision."

Heading into his 11th NFL season, Canty has recorded 335 career tackles, 21 1/2 sacks and five forced fumbles.

"There are few opportunities to impose your will on another man," Canty said. "There are very few places you can do that and not go to jail. The physical nature of the game is something I enjoy."

One of the reasons the Ravens brought back Canty was to provide leadership and a mentoring presence to a young defensive line. The Ravens are in flux upfront after trading five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions.

"That's really tough, especially the big fella not being around," Canty said. "You can't replace a guy like that, a future Hall of Famer, one of the best to ever play the game. Beyond that, just a good friend.

"It's going to be tough having him not be a part of our defensive unit and football team, but we have to move on. We understand the nature of the NFL, a great game, but sometimes it can be an ugly business."

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