Although the footwork looked textbook considering Terry was back at his natural left tackle position, the Baltimore Ravens’ imposing former second-round draft pick’s renewed familiarity was balanced by the discomfort of a surgically-repaired ankle.
The Ravens can’t afford any setbacks for Terry, considering how much they are counting on him as a blocking presence upfront. On the move the past two days from right tackle to left tackle because starting left tackle Jared Gaither is sidelined with a sprained ankle, Terry is intent on becoming a major contributor in his fourth NFL season.
"It’s just knocking off the rust," said Terry, who was limited during the Ravens’ offseason minicamps. "You’ve got to knock it off and get back on the horse. It’s not my first rodeo. Hopefully, it won’t be my last."
For Terry, this is supposed to finally be the year when he establishes himself as a respected starter now that All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden has retired and former right tackle Marshal Yanda has shifted to offensive guard. Other than the nagging health issues, there are no obvious obstacles standing in his way.
Barring an unexpectedly long hiatus for Gaither, Terry is slated to start at right tackle in the Sept. 7 season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I would say it’s a pivotal year," Terry said. "I wouldn’t necessarily call it a make-or-break season, but it’s a pivotal year as far as helping out this team and helping out this franchise."
Pain is currently a factor, though, along with his slightly decreased mobility.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh estimated that Terry is at roughly 85 to 90 percent of his usual movement.
"He looks like he’s still got some functional strength and some power there, but, every now and then, he gets a little light on it," Harbaugh said. "I’m sure he’s fighting through a lot of pain."
After undergoing surgery in January and being given a timetable of four to six months of rehabilitation, Terry is still working out the kinks. After most surgeries, there’s a need to break down scar tissue in order to regain full range of motion.
"I think it’s just usage," Terry said. "What it is right now and during the season, hopefully, this isn’t the best it will be. If it is, it is."
Terry has gained nearly 10 pounds of bulk through long workouts under strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki. At 6-foot-8, the red-headed lineman now weighs nearly 340 pounds.
Besides growing his hair out and his beard, Terry arrived at training camp with an intense look in his eye and a bigger upper body.
"I’ve gotten bigger, faster and stronger," Terry said. "You need to do that to survive in the NFL."
Terry started a career-high nine games last season, including four games at right tackle, four games at left tackle and one at tight end.
Now, he’s looking to eventually stop the unending shuffle and find a home on either the left or right side.
Because a blocker grows accustomed to stepping in a certain direction, any hesitancy can cost precious seconds. The timing has to be just right to work in concert with offensive guards Ben Grubbs and Yanda to protect the quarterback or clear a path in the running game.
"It’s like riding a bike," Terry said. "I have no choice, you know? I did it in Cincinnati and I did it in a live game, so you do like that you did it under fire.
In the wake of Ogden’s retirement in June, the Ravens have one of the youngest offensive lines in the league. Brown is the most experienced returning lineman with 29 career starts.
"Once you play a few games, your youth is dead," Terry said. "We had to grow up quick last year."
The Ravens still have confidence in Terry after investing a lot of time in the former Syracuse standout. Baltimore drafted Terry with the 64th overall pick in 2005 after trading third-round and sixth-round selections to the New England Patriots.
"I know that when he gets healthy he’s a good ballplayer," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "I liked him coming out of college. I liked him before he got hurt last year. I see him as a right tackle who could play left tackle."