Bronson Kaufusi couldn't stop smiling when he stepped to the podium during last week's minicamp.
The massive defensive end was just happy to be talking and playing football again. A broken ankle cost Kaufusi his entire rookie season, but the third-round pick is now completely healthy and competing for a starting job on Baltimore's defense.
"I love this game. I love everything about it, being with my teammates, all of that," Kaufusi said. "I cannot wait to get out there; I can't tell you. It's that constant fire in me that's burning always."
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound defender out of BYU suffered the injury early in last year's training camp before he could even play in a preseason game. It forced him into what was basically a "redshirt" season, where he had to learn from the sidelines and in the meeting rooms.
Now Kaufusi is eager to show off what he learned, and what he can bring to the defense.
"I want to make a difference," he said. "No matter where it is on the field, I want to get out there and make plays for our team, for our defense and just contribute."
Kaufusi is about 10 months removed from the injury, and he showed no ill effects from it during offseason practices. He was a full participant during Organized Team Activities and minicamp, and he took some first-team reps during that stretch.
Kaufusi is competing with Brent Urban and rookie Chris Wormley for the starting defensive end job that opened when Lawrence Guy signed with New England in free agency. Urban, entering his fourth season, has the most experience of the group. He's yet to make an NFL start, but he's played in 22 games and has notched 21 tackles and three sacks over that stretch.
"Brent, he's been here and he's phenomenal," Kaufusi said. "Wormley is a great player, and I think all of us together, we're just going to rise, continue to rise and really improve."
All three players are imposing physically, but an area where Kaufusi may have an edge is in the pass-rush department. He notched 11 sacks during his senior season at BYU, and had 26.5 over his four-year career. The Ravens are always looking for more players to pressure the quarterback, and Kaufusi brings skill in that regard.
The competition will be something to watch throughout training camp, as it's one of the few positions that is truly up for grabs. Regardless of who ends up getting the nod as the starter, Kaufusi, Urban and Wormley all figure to see time on a rotational basis.
And for Kaufusi, he's just eager to get on the field for his first NFL action.
"It's a blessing to be out here in OTAs and being able to rehab all the way back," Kaufusi said. "Injuries are always frustrating, but you also have to look for the silver lining in it. So, for me, it was a chance to learn, grow and take everything in that I could so I could be ready for this upcoming year."