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Vonta Leach Returns, Willing To Mentor Kyle Juszczyk


Vonta Leach was back on the practice field Thursday for the final week of the Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

Pundits have speculated that the Pro Bowl fullback's roster spot could be in jeopardy since the Ravens took Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth round of April's draft, and Leach is reportedly due to count $4.3 million against the salary cap.

"We're both still here, so we'll see how it goes," Leach told reporters after practice. "Hopefully it can work out for both of us. If it don't, I feel like I still can play in this league and I'll have a job somewhere."

Leach jumped right back in with the first-team offense during practice, and the Ravens have said several times that both players could have a spot on the 53-man roster.

Leach, a 10-year veteran, is regarded as arguably the best blocking fullback in the game. He's made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons and is a leader in the locker room.

While he and Juszczyk are competing for snaps, Leach said he's willing to help the rookie transition to the NFL.

"I'll teach him whatever he needs to know as far as the fullback position," Leach said. "I got no problem with it. If he has any questions he can come to me and ask me because that's how I made it in this league. I had a mentor and somebody helped me."

As the NFL has moved to a passing-driven league in recent years, fullback has become a much less prevalent position. Some teams don't even carry a true blocking fullback on the roster, and very few teams have two fullbacks.

But the Ravens may be willing to keep two fullbacks because Leach and Juszczyk both bring very different skillsets. Leach is a traditional lead blocker for the running game, while Juszczyk played both fullback and tight end in college and is known for his hands.

"[Vonta] and Kyle are two different players," running back Ray Rice said. "I don't think you can compare the two because they're totally different players."

Rice has flourished the last two seasons with Leach as his lead blocker, and has said on numerous occasions that Leach is the best thing to happen to him.

Rice has pushed for Leach to make the Pro Bowl the last two years, and he thinks Juszczyk has an opportunity to learn from one of the game's elite fullbacks.

"Vonta is going into his 10th season, and I think there is a lot of knowledge to be gained from that," Rice said. "From a blocking aspect, Vonta is the best at it. From a hybrid fullback/tight end aspect, Kyle can catch the ball and do a lot of different things.

"From a learning aspect, you can always take from a guy who has played 10 years in the National Football League."

After shedding salary this offseason by parting ways with veterans like Bernard Pollard, Anquan Boldin and Brendon Ayanbadejo, the Ravens are reportedly about $3.5 million under the cap right now.

Leach is heading into the final year of his contract with the Ravens.

"We don't know [what will happen]," Leach said. "When the situation comes, I think we'll take care of it." 

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