Ray Rice: I Miss My Teammates


Ray Rice says he feels like he's stuck in another lockout.

The Ravens' franchise running back has sat out voluntary offseason workouts as he awaits a long-term contract. He's been working out on his own, but it's not the same as doing it with teammates in Owings Mills, Md.

That's why Rice enjoyed meeting up with 27 of his fellow Ravens Sunday at the third annual Lardarius Webb Charity Softball Classic.

"It was like a breath of fresh air coming out here," Rice said.

"I miss [my teammates]. That's one thing that you do miss. You miss the camaraderie with the guys."

Rice put himself in the middle of the spotlight as the offense's pitcher for the entire game.

He was constantly joking with teammates and fans. He hiked his shorts up high to get some laughs, taunted rookie safety Christian Thompson after striking him out and fended off a fake charge of the mound from defensive lineman Bryan Hall and cornerback Chykie Brown.

Afterwards, as Rice spoke to reporters, backup running back Damien Berry came up, hugged Rice and told him he missed him.

3rd Annual Lardarius Webb

"It's sort of like the lockout last year," Rice said. "I had a chance to be away and then Ben Grubbs threw this [softball event] and everybody came back for that. It's sort of that feeling for me. I know those guys are working hard. I'm just happy to be out here with these guys having fun."

Rice didn't give an update on his contract negotiations, saying he trusts the business side of the game to work itself out. Under NFL rules, Rice has until July 16 to sign a new deal or he'll play this season under a $7.742 million franchise tag.

"I know I put myself in that position to let it dwindle out," he said. "Whatever it is, at the end of the day, hopefully I'll be there soon."

Rice did take comfort in the fact that when he comes back he'll be a part of an offense that likely won't change much under returning Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron.

"I wouldn't say it's a killing feeling," Rice said. "You've got to understand what's going on. Once you understand what's going on, you separate yourself from it and control what you can control. That's staying in shape and being ready when the time comes."

After Grubbs hosted the event the previous two years, Webb stepped up this year to take it over after Grubbs departed for New Orleans.

He got a huge draw of players, including quarterback Joe Flacco, wide receiver Torrey Smith, tackle Michael Oher, linebacker Jameel McClain and defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

Webb said tickets sold out and Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md., (capacity 6,300) looked almost entirely full. Players mingled with fans, signed autographs and showed off their lack of softball skills to the amusement of fans.

The event benefitted the Lardarius Webb Foundation, which raises and distributes funds to aid underprivileged children and their families.

"It wouldn't be [like] this if I didn't have the support of my teammates and my fans," Webb said. "The fans made the whole event for me. Just being a Baltimore Raven, being around this fan base, this is what you get. When you show them support, they'll show you support. That's why we call them the best fans ever."

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