OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens starting cornerback Cary Williams signed his $1.927 million second-round restricted tender, reporting to team headquarters Monday.
Williams, 27, is still rehabbing from surgery on his right hip in February to repair a torn labrum.
He had been recuperating from the procedure in Nashville, Tenn. before beginning workouts at the Ravens’ training complex this week.
"I just want to get my hip back and make sure I can play once I’m healthy," Williams told 24×7 in a telephone interview. "My hip will take care of itself. I take everything I do seriously, especially rehabbing and getting my conditioning back and getting in the best shape of my life. My job is on the line. Nothing has changed except for me being able to jog a little bit more. I’m taking everything slow. I would say I’m about 50 percent, it’s a process.
"I hate that I can’t get out there and run right now because my body is at that point where it knows I have to start working out. It’s a natural clock. I’ve been doing it so many years. Your body knows what time to start cranking up. My mind is saying I can do things, but I haven’t pushed my body too fast. I’ve made great strides in rehab. There’s no pain in my leg. It’s very flexible, but you have to be patient and not rush back."
The Ravens locked up starting cornerback Lardarius Webb with a $50 million deal that included a $10 million signing bonus after he intercepted five passes during the regular season with three more during the playoffs.
Ideally, they would also like to keep Williams on the roster on a long-term basis.
No deal is imminent, though, as talks have been on hold for the past few weeks.
"Yeah, I’m not really dwelling on the contract," Williams said. "That’s never been a big deal for me. I would love to get a new contract. I think it’s well-deserved. It’s an honor and a privilege. Not a lot of guys get to their second contract where a team falls in love with you and is interested in keeping you and making you one of their premier players.
"I don’t take it for granted. It’s a humbling experience. It’s a great opportunity for me. If we talk, we talk. If we don’t, we don’t. I’ll work hard every day and continue to grind. That’s first and foremost. The contract is secondary to me."
A former Tennessee Titans seventh-round draft pick from Washburn, Williams had a breakthrough season last year as he started every game. He recorded 77 tackles, 18 pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
"I feel pretty good about it," Williams said. "It’s something to start off with. I’ve always been a guy who set my goals and aspirations really high. The bar has been set for a pretty good standard, but I want to improve. I want to do better.
"I want to get my hands on more balls and intercept more balls and re-route wide receivers. I want to improve every aspect of my game, take it up another notch and make strides in my game and continue to progress as a player. I want to become a sponge and soak up as much information as possible."
Williams played hurt after suffering the hip injury in a road game against the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 13, never missing a start.
"I tried to play through it," Williams said. "It wasn’t anything major. Once you get in the game, the adrenaline is pumping and you get over it and try to do the best that you can."
Williams is looking to take part in some individual drills by the June full-team minicamp.
"That’s the best-case scenario," Williams said. "Maybe I could take a couple snaps. That would be good to gauge where my leg is at."
Williams expects to compete with former first-round pick Jimmy Smith for the second cornerback spot.
Smith intercepted two passes last season, one in the postseason.
"Competition is a part of life," Williams said. "It’s second nature. I don’t shy away from competition. I invite it. It brings out the best in you. It makes you a better person, a better player. It shows how bad you want it. Coaches can see that, too. There’s supposed to be a battle between me and Jimmy.
"Jimmy is a great guy, a great player. I’m a great guy and a great player, too. So, it’s going to be a battle. Whoever gets the job will be worthy of the job. There’s a certain level of respect and camaraderie. We’re three of the top corners in the league collectively, whether I’m starting or not starting."
The NFL’s third-ranked defense from a year ago has lost Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs for at least a major portion of the season, if not the entire year, due to a torn Achilles tendon sustained during the NFL draft.
"The Terrell Suggs incident is very unfortunate," Williams said. "I hope he gets well soon. I hate to be cliché, but it’s the next man up. We can’t sit and dwell on the issue with T-Sizzle. We’ve got to push forward. Everybody has to step up. I feel like one player doesn’t make the team. He was Defensive Player of the Year, a key cornerstone for the defense.
"We’ll miss him, but we have guys in place that can make an impact on the field as well. It won’t be the same production from the younger guys, honestly. We’ll keep pressing forward. We have lost guys to injuries before. Ray Lewis was out last year for a period of time and guys stepped up. We’ve got a lot of players in our locker room like that."