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Back in the Mix


When rookie offensive tackle Oniel Cousins toppled Dan Cody during a routine block in Wednesday's Organized Team Activity (OTA), Cody was quick to come up swinging.

Entering his fourth year of an injury-marred career, the linebacker was fighting for his life.

While the rest of the team was quick to break up the scuffle - in which Cousin's helmet was flung to the ground - Cody's intensity showed how crucial this offseason is to his future tenure in Baltimore.

Cody has certainly undergone a lot since the Ravens took him 53rd-overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. At that time, he was a stud sack master, coming off a career at Oklahoma where he notched 25 sacks and 42 quarterback pressures in 42 games. He finished his career as a finalist for the Ted Hendricks award for the nation's top defensive end.

Then came the bad luck. Even though he was largely healthy in college, Cody shredded his anterior cruciate ligament in his first training camp practice. The injury shelved him his entire rookie year, and then limited his performance the following season. Last year, he waited on the physically unable to perform list until Week 9, when knee and foot injuries again landed him on Injured Reserve.

Needless to say, Wednesday's moment was a brief scare for the 6-foot-5, 255-pounder.

"There's always a little bit of a question mark there," Cody said. "I feel like I've been able to take a few shots here and there and body up with some bigger guys. It's behind me now. It's just part of it."

However, the fact that Cody is even on the field is refreshing to his coaches. The Ravens are giving him every opportunity to contribute as a pass rush specialist.

"Right now, we've got him with his hand in the dirt, he's rushing the passer, and he looks fantastic to me," said defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. "We all know he's got great energy, and when he's healthy, this guy can really play. We're finally seeing [that]. He is healthy now, and hopefully – knock on everything – he stays that way."

Cody's excitement to join the defense is evident. Unlike many players that spend so much time on IR, Cody remained a regular at team headquarters throughout his recovery.

This offseason, not a day would go by when you wouldn't see the Ada, Okla. native's hulking frame roaming the weight room, and then stopping by the cafeteria to demolish at least one of his trademark heaping plates of food.

Cody's challenges were getting his flexibility and conditioning back, in addition to building trust in his knees and foot.

"I think the biggest thing is getting over these injuries," Cody explained. "You have to learn the game over a little bit, to some degree. But we've been practicing for seven or eight weeks now, so now that I'm back on the field, I feel like my old self."

On a team full of quarterback terrors like Terrell Suggs, Trevor PryceBart Scott and Antwan Barnes, adding Cody to the mix would be another excellent weapon for the Ravens' arsenal.

"Cody is a wild-card," said head coach John Harbaugh. "That would be a bonus for us."

And if Cody can come back at full strength, the long road to redemption will not be lost on anyone in the locker room.

Cody, as much as anyone else, wants to silence the skeptics and show that he was worthy of a second-round selection.

"It teaches you a lot of patience," Cody said. "But once you start playing again it feels like that time went by so quickly. The last few years have gone by like that."

As for the fight? Chalk it up to a little fire between two players looking to make their mark in front of a new coaching staff and many new teammates.

"I was just trying to finish a block," said Cousins, who actually was involved in a skirmish with defensive tackle Amon Gordon at a previous minicamp. "We're all out there competing. At the end of the day we're all one team. What happens on the field stays on the field."

Cody agreed, saying, "It was just kind of a misunderstanding. He kind of fell on me. I've been through too much the last three years to have somebody fall on me, but it's just how it goes. Tempers fly a little bit."

Of course, with that simple "misunderstanding," Cody is hoping his luck has finally turned.

"When you get hurt so many times in a row you feel like you're jinxed, but it's behind me now," he said.

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