Baltimore Ravens' inside slant

OWINGS MILLS -- takes a look inside the Baltimore Ravens.

Ravens return specialist B.J. Sams is running with new energy these days at the team's off-season workouts.

The difference is that weight has been lifted off of him physically and psychologically.

He doesn't have any doubts that he has recovered from a broken ankle, and he doesn't have to worry about a court case hanging over his career any longer.

"I'm feeling real good right now," Sams said of his physical and psychological states. "Everything's going real well, and I'm looking forward to bigger and better things."

Sams has been the Ravens' return specialist since the team signed him as an undrafted rookie in 2004. That season, he set a single-season franchise record with 1,826 combined return yards, including a record 1,251 kickoff return yards.

The next season, Sams led the AFC and ranked second in the NFL in punt returns (12.2-yard average).

Last season, Sams was sixth in the league in punt returns and eighth in kickoff returns before he fractured his ankle in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 30.

Coming back from the injury has caused a change in Sams, according to the Ravens.

"I think when something is taken from you, you appreciate it more," special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. said. "No one has worked harder than him to come back. He's such a great kid. I think his teammates think a lot of him. He's just that type of person."

The injury came nearly two months after his arrest on a DUI charge in October -- his second charge in a 14-month span. Sams was acquitted of the most recent charge last month.

Sams acknowledged that as much as he tried to concentrate on football, the court case was a distraction.

"I am glad that it is over with," he said. "It's a burden lifted off my shoulders. Everything is straightforward from here."

Sams isn't completely worry-free. In April, the Ravens selected Kansas State receiver-returner Yamon Figurs with the 74th overall pick in the third round.

Figurs, who recorded the fastest time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, will try to pass Sams on the depth chart, but Gansz reiterated that Sams is the team's return specialist.

"He hasn't been unseated yet," Gansz said. "He's a talented player. I like the young kid, but B.J.'s done it, he's made plays in big games. It wasn't his fault that he got hurt last year, and at that point in time, he was really coming on. ... He's a real competitor, and I don't think drafting a player affects him."

Sams said while he appreciates Gansz's faith in him, he knows that he can't afford to let his on-field performance slip.

"It gives you a lot of confidence, but I still have to go out there and do my job and do a great job," Sams said. "They can say that he's the man, but I still have to go out there and perform."


--In the second-to-last minicamp, 11 players skipped the voluntary workout, including coach Brian Billick. He missed to attend the high school graduation of his daughter Keegan.

Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan served as head coach in Billick's absence and appeared comfortable in his new role.

Asked if Billick has to worry about his job, Ryan said jokingly, "I didn't want to say anything, but the guys liked the changes."

--The Ravens had their final minicamp practice and won't reconvene until July 29, when the players report to training camp at McDaniel College. Unlike previous seasons, Billick sent his offensive players home with their playbooks.

"We're going to start (training camp) fast," he said. "And if they don't know what to do on the first day back, it's going to be hard for me to understand.

I'm going to have a less-than-calm demeanor if they don't know where they're supposed to be."

--Cornerback David Pittman returned to the field after missing the past couple of minicamps, but he still did not practice. He ran off to the side to test his injured left hamstring.

"It's getting a lot better than what it was," said Pittman, a former third-round pick.

--Quarterback Steve McNair, who had attended the first four off-season camps, skipped the team's final one.

--The Ravens signed veteran offensive tackle Steve Edwards, a full-time starter for the Chicago Bears in 2003. Edwards, who is 6-foot-6, 333 pounds, played two games for the New York Giants last year after being signed in the final month of the season. After starting 16 games for the Bears in 2003, he started eight times in 2004 before playing primarily on special teams.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We know where our players are. This is a voluntary camp. We don't look down on the people who are not here." -- Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan on 11 players missing a voluntary camp, which is the most no-shows for the Ravens this off-season.


MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.



UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

--WR Alex Bannister (not tendered as UFA).

--LB Tim Johnson (not tendered as UFA).

--FB Nicolas Luchey (not tendered as UFA).




--WR Devard Darling: RFA; $850,000/1 yr.

--DT Atiyyah Ellison: ERFA; terms unknown.

--LB Dennis Haley: ERFA; terms unknown.

--DE Jarret Johnson: UFA; 6 yrs, terms unknown.

--LS Matt Katula: ERFA; terms unknown.

--OT Mike Kracalik: ERFA; terms unknown.

--WR Clarence Moore: RFA; $850,000/1 yr.

--OG Ikechuku Ndukwe: ERFA; terms unknown.

--CB Evan Oglesby: ERFA; terms unknown.

--CB Ronnie Prude: ERFA; terms unknown.

--OG Brian Rimpf: ERFA; terms unknown.

--PR/KR Cory Ross: ERFA; terms unknown.

--PR/KR B.J. Sams: RFA; $850,000/1 yr.

--S Gerome Sapp: UFA; terms unknown.

--LB Mike Smith: ERFA; terms unknown.

--RB Musa Smith: UFA; $1M/1 yr, $490,000 SB.

--CB Jamaine Winborne: ERFA; terms unknown.


--G Steve Edwards: Not tendered as UFA by Giants; terms unknown).

--RB Willis McGahee (trade Bills).


--DT Aubrayo Franklin: UFA 49ers; $6M/3 yrs, $3M SB.

--RB Jamal Lewis (released).

--FB Ovie Mughelli: UFA Falcons; $18M/6 yrs, $5M SB.

--OG Edwin Mulitalo (released; post-June 1 designation).

--OT Tony Pashos: UFA Jaguars; $24M/5 yrs, SB unknown.

--LB Adalius Thomas: UFA Patriots; $37M/5 yrs, $12M SB/$8M OB 2008.

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