**Kelly Gregg** had been knocked to the turf when running back **Ray Rice** hit a hole he saw in the offensive line. Thinking there was daylight, Rice crouched and accelerated, only to get crunched by a lunging Gregg before gaining a single yard.
The fully-padded contact was something Gregg desperately missed for an entire year after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee.
It was yet another step in building confidence in an injury that once had him thinking about retirement.
Many players never return from microfracture surgery, which consists of drilling holes into bones to promote blood flow and create tissue that can replace cartilage.
But from offseason minicamps to now, Gregg seems to be recovering nicely.
"He came off OTAs and our football schools just picking up right from where he left off," said defensive coordinator **Greg Mattison**. "The one thing about Kelly is he's so excited to be here, and he's really moving good, and I think he got all the cobwebs off from OTAs."
Actually, Gregg hasn't skipped a beat. He ran all over the field with vigor during OTAs, and the fact that he was able to put on pads in training camp made him even more excited.
"This is fun for me," a wide-smiling Gregg said this week. "I'm just happy being back out here with the guys, coming back to this defense. A lot of people thought I was dead when I wasn't around."
He had one arthroscopic procedure at the beginning of training camp last year in hopes of correcting the issue. But as the weeks wore on, pain and swelling remained, prompting the microfracture surgery.
Gregg was placed on Injured Reserve in early October, causing him to miss the entire season for the first time in his nine-year career.
"It's tough to shut it down for a year and bite the bullet," said Gregg. "Maybe that will add a year or two to my career. It wasn't getting no better. I had to finally look at myself in the mirror and get 'er done.
"It feels good, no swelling. At this time last year, I would lay in my bed at training camp and I couldn't even straighten out my leg. I still have my sea legs, but they're coming back."
Gregg was confident his knee would respond once the full-contact drills began. He was able to squat the heavy weight he was accustomed to during the Ravens offseason conditioning program and hasn't needed a break after workouts.
Gregg said he is still working hard to build the strength in his left leg to that of his right.
"Sometimes in the past, I could feel my leg getting a little bigger and I'd have to take a rest," Gregg said. "I've never had to do that. I'm just going forward.
"There's a little atrophy in there where it's not as strong as my right leg would be, but it's coming. I wouldn't get out here if I wasn't confident that I'm going to get through this training camp and feel good."
Unheralded by the average fan, football insiders know Gregg's worth to Baltimore's defense. Known as one of the toughest and technically-sound tackles in the NFL, the stout 6-foot, 310-pounder is also incredibly productive.
Two years ago, Gregg totaled 111 tackles and three sacks. And, he has topped 100 stops in four of the five seasons from 2003-07. Such numbers are typically unheard of among interior defensive linemen.
"Kelly is probably the best technician between the guards in the league," stated head coach John Harbaugh. "Kelly Gregg gives us a dominant run player inside. It's not like he's 350 pounds, either."
Microfracture surgery has previously ended the career of many athletes.
Gregg is fearlessly – and happily – moving ahead.
"If anything, it's in my head, but it's nothing," he said. "If it's going to go, it's going to go."