Trevor Pryce entered the 2008 offseason with a few questions on his mind - not one of which had to do with the injuries that limited him to only five games last year.
The broken wrist he suffered in Week 3 and a torn pectoral muscle that eventually landed him on Injured Reserve? Those couldn't be farther in the past to the four-time Pro Bowler.
The main thing Pryce wondered was how far he could push himself to the limits of conditioning.
Pryce, who will turn 33 years old this Sunday, completely changed his training methods using personal challenges to prepare for his 12th campaign.
Now, he is enjoying a Ravens training camp in what he thinks is the best shape of his prolific career.
"It got to the point where I was like, 'I wonder if I can do this? I wonder if I can do a thousand reps of weight?'" Pryce explained with conviction. "Seriously, it was like, 'Let me try this!' It kept it interesting for me. That's the way I trained."
Pryce continued his usual regimen of playing soccer and mountain biking.
But, he also joined Denver Nuggets strength and conditioning coach Steve Hess to "train like a basketball player," which drove him to the peak of exhaustion while constantly running, cycling and swimming with as little rest as possible.
More importantly, he logged mile upon mile wearing a weighted vest.
The intense workouts prepared Pryce in a way that even surprised himself. When the defensive tackle reported to McDaniel College last week, he blazed through a team-issued conditioning test with time to spare.
"[Hess] put me in a weight vest and made me lift weights with it on and run sprints with it on," Pryce noted. "I jogged three miles and rode my bike 30 miles, and it got to the point where I wondered if I could run a five-minute mile. So I tried.
"Of course, I failed. But my first time I had it under six minutes, and I never could run a mile before in my life. Then, I tried to do the conditioning test with my weight vest on one day, and I almost passed it. With my weight vest on."
While Pryce joked that he wouldn't recommend such a routine to anyone else, especially since "the stuff that [he] did this past offseason was on the verge of suicide at times," they seem to have worked for the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder.
One only has to look at the way Pryce consistently slices through the offensive line in practice, whether it is with a power move from the edge or a finessed slip up the middle.
Visions of the No. 90 that logged a career-high 13 sacks in 2006, his first year as a Raven, leaves Baltimore's coaching staff eager for a full return.
"He looks outstanding," said defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. "It's amazing all the years he's played, and yet he's a little kid or a young man mentality-wise and what shape he's in. It reminds me of when Bruce Matthews was with Houston all those years. He played 20 years and he looked like a young guy still, and that's the way Trevor has been.
"Obviously, you've got the premier interior pass rusher in the game and that's Trevor Pryce, and he's a pretty darn good run player as well."
Pryce's skills were sorely missed during the Ravens' disappointing run to 5-11 a year ago.
Without Pryce, who ignited a dangerous pass rush from the defensive line, Baltimore was forced to utilize other defenders in schemed blitzes. Add that to a weakend secondary due to injuries to multiple cornerbacks, and the Ravens went from giving up 12.6 points (first in the NFL) and 188.2 passing yards per game (sixth) in 2006 to 24.0 points (tied for 22nd) and 222.3 yards (20th) in 2007.
"He means a lot to this defense and to our defensive front," explained cornerback Chris McAlister. "Trevor, he's a veteran guy who is an excellent pass and run defender. His presence in there allows us to have four-man blitzes because he does such a great job one-on-one."
Pryce even showed his athletic ability by pitching in at cornerback during the first two days of training camp, when the Ravens had no cornerbacks because of the all-rookie sessions.
He said he actually lost weight, yet still feels stronger. And his stint at corner, a position he claimed to play in high school, offers a glimpse at Pryce's agility in spite of his age.
Ever the prankster, Pryce let everyone know just how ready he was to play upon returning to Westminster, Md., with extra flair.
"I ran the conditioning test backpedaling just because I could," he said. "Just to show off. That has nothing to do with age, just how you train.
"No one prepared and trained like I did."