Several starters to miss voluntary workouts
OWINGS MILLS — As the Baltimore Ravens launch their offseason conditioning program Monday, several starters will be absent at the beginning of the voluntary workouts.
Among those not planning to attend: cornerback Cary Williams and unsigned franchise player Ray Rice, the Ravens’ Pro Bowl running back.
Williams, 27, is an unsigned restricted free agent who’s currently in talks with the Ravens about a long-term deal. He’s not expected to report until later on this spring in May or June.
Rice hasn't signed his $7.742 million franchise tender and the team isn't close to signing him or quarterback Joe Flacco to long-term deals.
Because Rice doesn't have a new contract, he has no plans to attend offseason workouts. Nothing has changed regarding his stance, which mirrors how most franchise players handle similar situations.
The Ravens are prepared for this scenario.
Rice isn't required to attend offseason workouts, organized team activities, minicamps, training camp and games until he signs his tender. The Ravens have until July 16 to sign him to a long-term deal. Otherwise, he'll play the entire season under the franchise tag.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards last season and set a franchise record with 15 total touchdowns, leading the NFL with 2,068 total yards from scrimmage.
The primary reason Williams won’t be present for the beginning of the workouts is because he underwent offseason hip surgery and is doing his rehabilitation in Nashville, Tenn.
Williams was assigned a $1.927 million second-round tender.
A former Tennessee Titans seventh-round draft pick from Washburn, Williams emerged as a reliable starter last season as he recorded 77 tackles with 18 pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
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. They would also like to keep Williams on the roster on a long-term basis.
Under NFL rules governing the offseason, attendance at the offseason conditioning program is voluntary. However, some players have workout bonuses in their contracts that reward them for high attendance.
Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie has pledged to attend the offseason program after struggling with his conditioning last year.
The Ravens decided to pick up his $500,000 roster bonus last month after meeting with McKinnie to gauge his conditioning level and plans for this offseason.
McKinnie played his way into shape last year when he was signed by Baltimore after being cut by the Minnesota Vikings when he failed his physical after reporting at 387 pounds.
McKinnie didn’t grade out highly for his run blocking last season as he started every game, but the 6-7, 360-pounder had to drop weight in a hurry after ballooning up during the NFL lockout.
“He had done a good job, he’d been working in the offseason, he’s training,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said during the NFL owners meetings. “He’s in the same shape he was in when he left. We want to improve that from now until the start of next season.
“It’s going to be really important what he does between now and when the offseason program starts on through June that he gets in the kind of shape he needs to be in. It’s not like he’s a big, fat guy. He’s a big guy. We still want him to be able to move a little better and get a little quicker.”