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The Ravens have reached an agreement with running back Ricky Williams, who could provide a reliable backup for starter Ray Rice.
Pro Football Talk is reporting that the deal is worth up to $4 million over two years, pending a physical, which Williams will take Tuesday at Ravens training camp.
At 5-foot-10, 230 pounds, Williams would give the Ravens a bruising option to complement the diminutive and shifty Ray Rice.
“Me, I’m an every-down back, so I know I’m going to need to be spelled once in a while,” said Rice. “I’m looking forward to working with him.
“It’s a good thing to have a change of pace, so we’ll be good to go.”
The Ravens had an opening at the position after they released Willis McGahee two weeks ago and the back signed with the Denver Broncos. In a similarly-shared role in Baltimore, McGahee racked up 380 yards and five touchdowns on 100 carries last year.
Williams has certainly churned up yardage in the past. The 1998 Heisman Trophy winner was the fifth-overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft.
“How could you forget a Heisman Trophy winner?” Rice said.
In his first three professional seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Williams topped 1,000 yards twice.
He was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2002, where he immediately boosted their rushing attack to elite status. As the main ball-carrier, Williams totaled 1,853 and 1,372 rushing yards in 2002 and 2003, respectively before abruptly retiring for the 2004 campaign.
Williams returned the following year, was suspended in 2006 and played in only one game in 2007.
The Ravens are not worried about Williams’ well-documented character issues in the past.
“There’s risk with you. There’s risk with me. There’s risk with everybody in here,” said Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, who coached Williams in 2007. “We’re all living and breathing, and we all make mistakes. Ricky’s not perfect, but he’s got a great heart and he’s a great football player.
“We have to see what kind of shape he’s in. But he knows this system and he’s played extremely well in this system.”
The 34 year old has returned to form recently, logging 673 rushing yards and two touchdowns last season and 1,121 yards and 11 scores two years ago, all for the Dolphins.
“He should be a great addition to this offense,” said quarterback Joe Flacco. “He’ll take some of the load off Ray and make him last longer out there. Ricky’s had a great career, and he’s a big, physical back. We’re going to like him out here.
“He’s a pretty legit dude. He’s not a guy many people want to get in the way of.”