Ravens to release Ricard

OWINGS MILLS -- Fullback Alan Ricard's days with the Baltimore Ravens are numbered because the once-bruising blocker for the NFL's top rushing attack isn't a part of the team's plans, according to his agent.

The former Pro Bowl alternate has already been informed by team management that he won't be on the roster when the team reports to training camp in Westminster later this month.

General manager Ozzie Newsome returns from a vacation this week and Ricard remains officially on the roster, but probably not for much longer.

The primary factors in Ricard's impending release include: ongoing medical issues that have limited him for the past two seasons, being regarded as a one-dimensional blocker, his high salary along with the emergence of fullback Justin Green and H-back Daniel Wilcox.

Ricard, 29, cleared gaping pathways in 2003 for running back Jamal Lewis to ramble through as he gained 2,066 yards -- the second-most in league history -- and was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

Initially on the Ravens' practice squad, Ricard emerged as a strong blocker after an apprenticeship under Sam Gash.

However, Ricard only appeared in two games last season due to injuries to both calf muscles prior to being placed on injured reserve Oct. 28. The team was unable to trade Ricard, who aggravated the calf injury during minicamps and didn't participate in team drills.

If Ricard passes a physical, the team will release him. If he fails a physical, they would likely have to award him an undetermined injury settlement.

Ricard's 2004 contract extension made him one of the highest-paid fullbacks in the league and included a $1 million signing bonus. He was slated to make an $850,000 base salary this season and $1 million apiece in 2007 and 2008.

Offensive coordinator Jim Fassel favors the one-back set along with more versatile fullbacks. He used Wilcox extensively as a blocker and as a receiver out of the backfield during minicamps.

Plus, Green, a converted running back, has made a smooth transition to fullback and has impressed the coaching staff with his hands and route-running.

Aaron Wilson writes for Ravens Insider and the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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