Lardarius Webb was playing at a Pro Bowl level before tearing his ACL last season.
He was a shut-down cornerback and was arguably the Ravens' best defender. Webb is working his way back to the field after suffering the injury nearly eight months ago, and the Ravens can't wait to get their franchise cornerback back into action.
"It just brings an extra spark to that whole secondary," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "He's another guy where it's critical we get him back, and we want him back."
Webb has been a limited participant during the offseason practices of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), and the expectation is that he'll be a full participant for training camp. During recent OTA practices open to the media, Webb has shown a good burst and been fluid in his movement during individual drills.
While he can't fully participate in practice, Webb has been a regular face at the Under Armour Performance Center throughout the offseason to rehab the knee and also participate in team meetings.
"The thing about Lardarius is, I know he isn't in practice, but he is in every meeting," Pees said. "To me, he's kind of here. He knows everything that is going on."
Webb's presence is important for a Ravens team that has to replace a number of defensive leaders. The team is counting on Webb, who last year signed a six-year contract reportedly worth $50 million, to be one of the leaders of the secondary.
He's expected to regain the No. 1 cornerback spot when he comes back from the injury, and then Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith will compete for the other starting corner job.
Webb's return will bring stability to a secondary that lost Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and Cary Williams, who were all starters the last two years. Webb is now the leader of the unit, and getting him back in the lineup will be a boost for the defense this season.
"He makes plays," Pees said. "He's a good tackler. It looks like he's a buck 50 out there, but the guy throws his body around. He thinks he's a linebacker. The other part of it is just the way he plays, with the tenacity that he plays with."