Former fullback Vonta Leach said he retired as a Raven — despite playing less than half his career in Baltimore — because he believes no other team glorifies the fullback position like the Ravens.
In 2011, Leach signed with Baltimore as an unrestricted free agent after seven years in the NFL. Leach was on the 2012 Super Bowl team and retired in 2013.
Friday’s event officially marked his retiring with the Ravens.
“I played for some great organizations … but no organization glorified or embodied the fullback position like the Baltimore Ravens,” Leach said. "That’s why I wanted to come here. That’s why I wanted to be a part of that.”
Leach earned his second Pro Bowl selection in his first year as a Raven. The following year, Leach helped the Ravens to a Super Bowl win and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third year in a row.
Despite his years with the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans, Leach said he will be bonded for life with the 2012 Super Bowl champion Ravens. He said fans supported him as well, recalling chants of “Leach” whenever he was on the field.
In his time as a Raven, he set the tone on the field, off the field, in the locker room and in the cafeteria, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
“This is a football player,” Harbaugh said. “And not just a football player but a Raven. A guy that’s going to play the kind of football that Ozzie envisioned when he came here in 1996. Downhill football, the way it’s always been played.”
Former general manager Ozzie Newsome said Leach’s decision is a special occurrence.
“When you have a player that played with another organization and they come here less time than they played for the other organization, and they decide they want to retire with us, that’s especially special,” Newsome said.
Ravens roster moves
Three Ravens who did not pass their conditioning tests were back on the field Friday.
Offensive linemen Orlando Brown Jr. and Jermaine Eluemunor and outside linebacker Shane Ray passed their tests Friday morning and practiced, but none of them took snaps with the starters.
The Ravens have been using their international exemption player, Christopher Ezeala, as an offensive and defensive player. Ezeala comes from the German Football League and is taking snaps at fullback and linebacker.
Lineman Alex Lewis, who has been out with a shoulder injury, was on the sidelines at training camp Friday, and Harbaugh said he’s making progress. Harbaugh said Lewis’ doctor told the team if everything goes as planned, Lewis should be ready for “full go” in early August.
Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is still watching from the sidelines and working out on his own. Receiver Quincy Adeboyejo was absent again after he was waived Thursday with a non-football-injury designation.
With the open spot, the Ravens signed guard Isaiah Williams. Formerly an Alliance of American Football player, Williams has not made a 53-man NFL roster since going undrafted in 2016. He’s been on rosters for the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders.
Center Matt Skura was absent because he was attending a funeral. He will return Saturday for the practice at M&T Bank Stadium.
Putting the pads on
While M&T Bank Stadium will be showing off what its new lights can do, the Ravens will be showing off what they can do by donning pads for the 6 p.m. Saturday practice.
On Thursday, the team was working out its first day jitters. On Friday, the team looked much more put together than the first day of training camp.
As the team heads into Saturday, Harbaugh said he expects things could be “a little off," but each day of practice is a new step.
“But I talk to them and just say, ‘Let’s not get caught up in all that,’ ” Harbaugh said. “Let’s just keep it simple, keep it all football, get in our box and do our job. And the field will still be the same length and same width.”