MIDDLE RIVER –Cary Williams has regained trust and flexibility in his surgically-repaired right hip and expects to practice with no restrictions when the Baltimore Ravens start training camp Tuesday afternoon.
The starting cornerback underwent surgery on a torn labrum in February and was able to participate in a June minicamp, but not without some pain and discomfort.
"Yeah, I trust it," Williams said Saturday night during a Special Olympics event at Al Packer Ford. "I think the difference between now and minicamp is that it really was hurting in minicamp in certain areas. I tried to get out there and run, but I couldn’t get full extension and then it hurt when I was running around. Right now, I don’t feel any of that."
Williams, 27, said that he’s ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation and plans to take the Ravens’ conditioning test today with a series of timed runs.
"I plan on just going right out there with the guys," Williams said. "I don’t expect to take any days off unless they tell me that’s what I need to do. As far as I’m concerned, I’m full-go."
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder was able to begin running earlier than anticipated in June.
Getting past any mental obstacles has been important to Williams’ recovery.
"I’m past that hurdle, yeah," Williams said. "Maybe during minicamp, it was one of those things where it was in my head that it was still hurting and it wasn’t 100 percent. Right now, I can do anything that everybody else can do. I’ve been working it hard trying to get it back and I think I’m going to be ahead of schedule."
Williams, 27, recorded a career-high 78 tackles last season as he started every game, forced two fumbles and deflected 18 passes.
He managed to start every game despite injuring his hip against the Seattle Seahawks in November.
"I’m very excited, man," Williams said. "It’s been a long time coming. It feels like the offseason is long because I took a couple of months off working on my rehab and trying to get the leg back. It’s just frustrating, but it’s all worth it. Hopefully, I come out and duplicate what I did last year."
Now, Williams is trying to hold onto his starting job and will face a serious challenge from former first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith.
Smith is a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder with prototypical size and speed who intercepted two passes as a rookie during the regular season and also had an acrobatic interception in the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots.
"Jimmy’s a great corner," Williams said. "We expect to battle it out. The great thing about it is that we care about each other. We love each other. We hang together. We’re both great teammates. We wish the best for each other. I wish him the best in everything that he does. You want to see a guy go out there and be successful. Regardless of what’s the outcome of the battle and who’s No. 1 and who’s No, 2, we’re going to try to duplicate wins from last season.
"We’re going to try to win as many games as possible. That’s the whole point, to win games and to be a great teammate in the process. I think we both understand that and we’re both going to go out there and do our best for the Baltimore Ravens in any way possible."
Williams will be joined in the Ravens’ secondary by All-Pro free safety Ed Reed, the mercurial former NFL Defensive Player of the Year who contemplated retirement and suggested a potential holdout before announcing last week at his annual golf tournament that he intends to play this season. In another positive sign, Reed worked out at the Ravens’ training complex one day after announcing his plans.
Williams said he was privy to what Reed had in mind.
"You know what? I knew," Williams said. "I didn’t want to tell anybody, but I knew whatever Ed was going to do at the time. I think we’ve got a great group. We need him. He’s Ed Reed, you know.
"That’s just him. We know that sometimes he can be a little difficult at times in people’s eyes, but in my opinion, I think Ed was doing what he needed to do. Big ups to him. I’m glad he’s coming back."