Players Saddened By Veterans’ Release

Ravens players understand the business side of the recent releases of Derrick Mason and others.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

Returning to team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., on Tuesday, several Ravens players paid their respects to the four locker room leaders who will be released later this week, even if they understand it is just business in the salary-cap era.
Wideout Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap, running back Willis McGahee and defensive tackle Kelly Gregg were all informed on Monday they would soon be cut after long stints in Baltimore. 
With McGahee’s impending departure, running back Ray Rice feels that he is losing a mentor.
“When I came in as a rookie, Willis was the first to teach me the ropes, not to shadow anyone else who’s helped me,” said Rice, whose rise to featured runner pushed McGahee into more of a goal-line role.  “I think Willis McGahee taught me to go out and be the best Ray Rice you can be.  [He said,] ‘You don’t have to compete with me.  We’re two different players.’
“We brought two different things to the game.”
Likewise, Rice has the utmost respect for his other offensive brethren, Heap and Mason.
“Todd Heap, he’s a guy that is the ultimate hard worker. He battled through injury and would go out there, be resilient and still play the game at a high level,” opined Rice.  “With Derrick, he was the ultimate leader.
“For me, it’s like you’re kind of upset about it but you also know it’s the business.”
For defensive tackle Terrence Cody, the same applies to Gregg.  The Ravens spent a second-round draft pick on Cody last year, and the Alabama product saw more and more time on the field as the season progressed.
Now, Cody hopes to step up in Gregg’s absence.
“I do [see an opportunity], but at the same time, Kelly Gregg was a mentor and a teacher to me and he was a big part of me learning a lot last year and just how to play as a nose guard in this system,” said Cody.  “That’s what he taught me. When I heard that, it was a shock to me because I thought that he would be one of the guys that would come back this year.”
The news was tough to swallow for many, but cornerback Domonique Foxworth considers one silver lining – at least Mason, Heap, McGahee and Gregg will enter the free agent pool as soon as the market opens.
Foxworth just hopes he isn’t in that situation any time soon.
“It sucks if they don’t re-sign them, I’m going to miss those guys, but fortunately they’re going to release them before free agency and you can add their names to this free agency bonanza that’s going on,” Foxworth said.

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