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Ray Rice will be ready for the 2012 season.
The Ravens running back made it clear Saturday that he’ll be in shape whenever he reports for offseason activities.
“I actually have the burning to desire to come back, not only for myself, but to come back ready to play,” Rice said at Calvert Hall during the first Ray Rice Day in Baltimore.
As the free camp opened for more than 700 children Saturday morning, Rice talked with the media about his off-season training, emphasizing that he’s in great shape despite not participating in the Ravens voluntary conditioning program during his contract negotiations.
“Training is something that I never worried about,” Rice said. “My training has always been part of my routine. Nobody ever had to beat me in the head to work out.”
Rice didn’t talk about the ongoing contract negotiations, but the Ravens have repeatedly said that they are continuing to negotiate with his agent Todd France.
The Ravens applied the franchise tag to Rice for this year, but he has yet to sign the tag and is hoping to get a long term deal. The two sides have until July 16 to work out a new deal, or else Rice would have to play the 2012 season under the franchise tag.
Even if that ends up being the case, Rice still has big expectations for the upcoming season.
“When we get to the season, I’m going to do my job and bring a Super Bowl back to Baltimore,” Rice told the crowd at the start of the event.
Rice also talked about the Ravens’ recent draft, where they took Temple running back Bernard Pierce in the third round. Pierce is expected to compete for the No. 2 running back spot, and while the two players haven’t talked yet, Rice said he’s glad to have another big runner in the backfield with him.
“One thing I know about the NFL, I’ve always said that one back really can’t do it all anymore,” Rice said. “I’d love for a guy to give me a spell or give me a breather. I was genuine and I was serious when I said Ricky Williams was the best thing to ever happen to me last year because this is the healthiest I’ve been. Quite frankly, I’m going into my fifth season and this is the best I’ve ever felt.”
Pierce will have to compete with second-year backs Anthony Allen and Damien Berry for the job, and Rice expects a tight battle.
“We’ve got some great backs with Anthony Allen and Damien Berry, so there’s going to be some nice competition going on there,” Rice said. “One thing I want to build with the group is that I want to build that camaraderie.”
Allen was one of the players on the Ravens roster who came to Towson to help with Rice’s camp Saturday. Wide receivers Torrey Smith and LaQuan Williams, fullback Vonta Leach, cornerback Cary Williams and defensive lineman Art Jones also participated.
Rice has put on an annual camp in his hometown of New Rochelle, but this was the first one in Baltimore, and Rice was thrilled to bring the event here.
“Look at these kids, they’re nothing but smiles, and this quite frankly is what I love to do,” he said. “I love being active in the community and I’m trying to make this more than one day. Seeing these kids’ faces is priceless.”
“My name is attached to it, but Ray Rice Day is really a community of people coming together for one cause and that’s for the kids to be happy.”