As he came off the field following a minicamp practice, defensive end Brent Urban had trouble getting his sweat-drenched jersey off as he sought out shade.
Urban took a lot of snaps during Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp, and* *that's just fine with him. He's missed so much action during his first two years that he'll take every rep he can get.
And now is his chance to become a starter.
"I feel the best I ever have heading into training camp," Urban said. "It's nice finally going through a whole offseason workout program without having something to worry about."
Urban began his rookie offseason on the sideline because of a pre-draft ankle surgery. Then he tore his ACL at the start of rookie camp, ending his first season.
He returned the next offseason trying to work past the knee injury and tore his biceps early on in training camp. That knocked him out of eight games.
But the Ravens have always valued Urban's potential. They showed it by using their one injured-reserve/designated to return spot on Urban last year, allowing him to return.
He played his first NFL game in Week 10 in Cleveland and blocked the Browns' potential game-winning field goal, which was returned for a game-winning kick-six.
It was a magical start to his career. Though Urban didn't have a big defensive role moving forward (he played in six games, made 11 tackles and one sack), it was a big step forward.
"What really helped me was being able to come back last year and go through real NFL games and come out healthy and feel good," he said. "Now injuries aren't in the back of my mind."
After the Ravens released Chris Canty this offseason, Urban is now* *in line to compete for the starting job. His main challengers are veteran Lawrence Guy, Kapron Lewis-Moore and rookie third-round pick Bronson Kaufusi. Kaufusi missed all of OTAs and minicamp with a back injury.
"There's definitely going to be a good competition," Urban said. "But I have expectations for myself and I'm gunning for that starting position every day."
Finally without restrictions on his weightlifting this offseason, Urban added more bulk, which has made the 6-foot-7 monster even more menacing. He said he added seven pounds (up to 303 pounds) and still has the same body fat as before.
At the same time, he's focused more on taking care good care of his body through diet, recovery and stretching. The Ravens' revamped strength and conditioning program has helped.
"Pretty much anything I can find in there to help my flexibility or help with injury prevention I'm on," Urban said.
"It's probably the biggest chunk of time playing football that I've had since college, so my confidence is at an all-time high."