Lardarius Webb’s progression on the field from his second torn ACL in four-years has been exciting (and encouraging) to watch.
Last season during a Week 6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Webb was assigned to Cowboys’ receiver Dez Bryant during the first quarter of the game. The two collided knees on an 18-yard comeback route. Immediately, Webb dropped to the ground, clutching his knee. At the time, Webb’s injury was not only thought to be detrimental to the Ravens defense, but to Webb’s career as well.
Fortunately, neither was the case.
Webb was just seven months removed from signing a five-year, $50 million extension ($20 million guaranteed). Even though Webb received his payday and a Super Bowl ring last season, he wants to return to the field to not only legitimize the investment the Ravens made in him, but also make a larger contribution to a world championship.
Webb recently talked about how his limited contributions to the Super Bowl title motivated him throughout the rehabilitation process.
“Very motivating,” Webb said. “It was a good feeling on the sideline, so I can imagine how good it felt to actually be out on the field and just be playing – make some tackles and make some plays.”
“I feel like a champion, but I’m motivated to get back, just like a couple of the other guys on my team.”
For most of training camp, Webb could be labeled as a limited participant. He’ll receive his heaviest workload during non-padded days where the risk of injury in minimized. The Ravens have been cautious with Webb, and rightfully so. Even though it appears that he can play, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Ravens air on the side of caution and give him limited snaps, if any at all.
Regardless of his workload during practice, Webb looks like the “Webby” of old, with a nose for for the football and a knack for making plays.
Two weeks ago, Webb intercepted his first pass off of quarterback Joe Flacco to the tune of cheers from the fans in attendance and encouragement from his defensive teammates who know how hard he’s battled to return to the field. Since then, interceptions seem to be a daily occurrence for Webb, who had two during Monday’s session.
While he may not be able to run a 4.46 second 40-yard dash anymore, Webb’s feet are still blazing. During practice, Webb turns on the jets after intercepting a pass, and it appears that his knees haven’t hindered his explosiveness that much.
“I think he’s getting there,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said following Monday’s practice. “I can’t tell you – the trainers would have to tell you where he is as far as his rehab. But I know we’ve been bringing him along and practicing a little bit more, and I think he got a little more reps in there today.”
Physically, Webb has been limited, but mentally he’s sharp as ever.
“He’s been very good in the classroom and hasn’t missed a thing,” said Pees. “Now it’s just a matter of getting him back and knowing he’s healthy before we put him into the action.”
Webb is adored by everyone from the Ravens front office to the fan base. As the team searches for new leadership, Webb is one of the primary voices on the Ravens defense, and certainly within the secondary.
Injuries are second-nature in football, they come with the territory.
Webb has taken his in stride and leads by example.
Injury robbed him of an All-Pro season in 2012 but his gritty determination through the rehab process tells a story and send a message that ripples through the Ravens locker room.
And soon it will be time to take that message to the field.
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