One of the biggest surprises and most heartbreaking stories of last offseason was Tim White.
The undrafted Arizona State product flashed big-time playmaking skills as both a wide receiver and returner throughout the offseason, positioning himself to make the 53-man roster.
Then, in his first NFL preseason game, White tore a ligament in his thumb on the opening kickoff return of the second half. He knew his hand was messed up, but he didn't want the dream to end, so he didn't tell anybody about it until after the game.
Later that quarter, Josh Woodrum threw a 33-yard touchdown pass … to White.
"I wasn't going to take myself out," White said. "I wanted to come out and make a play or do something to have some fun with my teammates, so that's what I did."
After surgery and nine months of recovery, White is back and eager to pick up where he left off at the start of Ravens Organized Team Activities next week.
"I'm 100. I'm good. I'm ready to go," White said. "I just want to come out and be the spark and playmaker I am. I want to ignite the crowd and make plays."
The 5-foot-10, 181-pound White is in the middle of a crowded wide receiver corps this offseason, which means making the 53-man roster a challenge. Baltimore signed three veteran free agents in Michael Crabtree, John "Smokey" Brown and Willie Snead IV. The Ravens drafted two more in fourth-rounder Jaleel Scott and fifth-rounder Jordan Lasley.
However, with Michael Campanaro now a Tennessee Titan, Baltimore is looking for a new punt returner and White – a prolific college returner – could be the leading option.
"It's a big-time opportunity," White said. "If it's something I'm not focused on, then I shouldn't be here."
While having to watch from the sidelines last season was difficult, White used it as a redshirt rookie year. He went to all the meetings he possibly could and still hung around with his teammates to get to know them better.
Individually, he took the time to not only rehab his hand, but focus on some of the smaller things. He used bucket and sand drills to strengthen both his hands and did a lot of drills with implemented other exercises to improve hand-eye coordination.
"This is the strongest my hands have ever been," White said. "I've been working on them a lot – things that I've never worked on before.
"Especially as a rookie, coming out of college, you focus on the big things. The injury really allowed me to strengthen other areas, and it definitely gives me a fire to come back this year even better."