ABERDEEN — Ray Rice rejoined his teammates on Sunday, clowning around and flashing his trademark smile.
The Baltimore Ravens’ Pro Bowl running back and unsigned franchise player wasn’t on a football field, though. Instead, the venue was the Lardarius Webb third annual charity softball game at Ripken Stadium where Rice had a lot of fun from the pitcher’s mound and running the bases.
It marked one of the few times Rice had been around many of his teammates since last season because he’s working out on his own due to his unresolved contract situation.
"It’s like a breath of fresh air coming out here," Rice said. "We’ve got the best fans. It’s always fun. I had fun. I’m a big kid."
Rice has been a solitary figure this offseason while his teammates participate in organized team activities. The Ravens aren’t close to negotiating a long-term contract extension for the All-Pro runner.
"I miss it," Rice said when asked about not being around his teammates on a regular basis. "That’s one thing you miss is the camaraderie with the guys. As far as playing football, I know I’m always going to be up to speed.
"The best thing about my situation is that we have the same offensive coordinator. I miss the camaraderie. It’s sort of like the lockout last year. It’s sort of that feeling for me. I know those guys are working hard. I’m just happy to be out here with these guys having fun."
Under NFL rules governing franchise players, the Ravens have until July 16 to negotiate a new deal for Rice. Otherwise, he’ll play this season under a $7.742 million franchise tag.
"Honestly, I just let my agent take care of all of that stuff," Rice said. "My job, I just stay in shape and come out on days like this. I know the business side will always take care of itself.
"I know I put myself in that position to kind of let it dwindle out. Whatever it is at the end of the day, hopefully I’ll be there soon."
Rice rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards and a dozen touchdowns last season.
He said he’s maintaining a positive attitude.
Rice definitely didn’t seem stressed out, wearing his shorts hiked up to amuse the crowd.
Rice responded to a flurry of fake punches when cornerback Chykie Brown and defensive tackle Bryan Hall jokingly charged the mound.
Rice laughed after striking out rookie safety Christian Thompson.
"At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say it’s a killing feeling," Rice said. "You’ve got to understand what’s going on. Once you understand what’s going on, you kind of separate yourself from it. You control what you can control, and that’s staying in shape and obviously being ready when the time comes."