Kelechi Osemele pushed himself to return quickly from an Achilles injury that bothered him throughout the month of August, against the advice of those who have his long-term interests in mind.
One of the best young guards in the NFL, Osemele is pushing for his first Pro Bowl berth and is entering the final season of his contract with the Ravens with a payday awaiting him in free agency next spring.
But after participating in the Aug. 20 joint practice against the Philadelphia Eagles, the starting left guard said the team's larger goals began to override his personal desire to be on the field during training camp.
"At that point, I started thinking about making it worse, and us having the team that we have, being [wide receiver] Steve Smith's last year, and a chance to really take it all the way," Osemele said. "I want to be a part of that. I don't want to be on the sidelines, so I started thinking about staying healthy."
Osemele suffered the injury early in the Aug. 5 training camp practice, when he had his foot stepped on in an inside run drill. He finished practice that day, but missed several practices before participating in the starters' lone drive in the preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 13.
After that game action, though, he was held out for four practices before returning for the middle of three joint practices with the Eagles. After that day, he was held out for over a week, and missed the middle two preseason games before returning to practice Monday.
None of the starters played in the final preseason game, but on Saturday, Osemele put to rest any concerns that the injury might impact his availability to play in the season opener against the Denver Broncos next Sunday.
"No longer a concern," Osemele said. "I'm ready to go. I'm good. I'm at the point where it's go time, so I'm excited. I'm ready.
"I'm just getting stronger every day. I'm still doing my work that I need to be doing on it, but as far as the rehab phase, we're out of the gates on that. Now, its' about prevention and strength at this point."
After a preseason in which guard Marshal Yanda and center Jeremy Zuttah were the only offensive linemen to make it through without injury -- out of the Ravens' five starters and five projected top reserves -- the starting line is now fully healthy entering the regular season.
The returning unit of tackles Eugene Monroe and Rick Wagner, guards Yanda and Osemele, and Zuttah represents one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.