McGahee: "I don't mind"

OWINGS MILLS -- Relegated to second-team status behind Ray Rice at this point, Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee seems to have accepted an unfamiliar complementary role.

While McGahee has missed the majority of the offseason minicamps due to having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Rice has thrived with an increased workload and drawn praise from the coaching staff.

"I don't mind," McGahee said Tuesday during the Ravens' passing camp. "He has been here the whole offseason. It wouldn't be right, just coming in and taking over. I respect game.

"Ray has been here the whole offseason and going with the ones when I wasn't here. Work is work. You're going to get work whether it's with the first, second or third."

For McGahee, starting is something he had grown accustomed to as a former Pro Bowl runner who gained 1,207 yards and scored seven touchdowns during his first season in Baltimore two years ago following a trade from the Buffalo Bills.

"I know what I can do," McGahee said. "I know I can turn the light switch on when I need to. I'm ready to turn it on."

However, McGahee was hampered by injuries to his knee, ribs and eye last season and rushed for a career-low 671 yards.

Now, his health is improving and he expects to be fully recovered by training camp.

"I don't feel anything in my knee," McGahee said. "I'm just getting it stronger and ready to break long runs and make great blocks. ... Everything is coming along. I'm right where I want to be. As long as I'm ready for the season opener, that's all I'm worried about. I'll be cleared for training camp, no doubt.

McGahee said that his relationship with the coaching staff has improved after drawing criticism last season for admittedly not showing up to training camp in optimum condition and not being up to speed on the playbook initially after skipping the majority of the installation periods in minicamps.

"I'm okay with everybody," McGahee said. "I ain't never said I'm the best player to be interacting with coaches. That's just how it is with me, but I have no hard feelings against them and I don't think they have any hard feelings against me."

MASON UPDATE: Veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason is still unsure if he'll be ready for training camp as he recovers from shoulder surgery to repair a damaged labrum and scapula.

Mason is participating in drills, but isn't cleared for contact.

"You never know with Superman," he said. "I can come out with the cape and it could be the first day or the second week. You never know, but I'm optimistic that when it's time to play, I'll be able to play whenever it is. I'll be able to play when we play Kansas City."

The Ravens open the season Sept. 13 at home against the Chiefs.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence recently that Mason, the the Ravens' leading receiver for three of the four past seasons, would take part in most of training camp.

Mason, who's entering the final year of his contract and has requested an extension, remains conservative in his outlook for camp.

"I still don't know if I'm going to be ready," he said. "It still bothers me, but I'm trying to condition my body and myself to get over it, get past it and try to get back on the field as soon as I can. If I can't, then I'm not going to press the issue."

QUICK HITS: Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain, the team's leading rusher last season, is carrying some excess poundage. Last season, McClain reported to training camp at 278 pounds and flunked the team's conditioning test. Although McClain looks heavier than usual, Harbaugh stressed that McClain is in better shape than he looks and the team isn't concerned. "He's worked really hard," Harbaugh said. "He's probably 10 or 12 pounds heavier than he'll be when we play, but he's also in great shape. So although he's carrying a lot of weight, cardiovascular and strength-wise, he's in really good shape. Now, he's got to maintain that and build on that, take the weight off for training camp and he should be ready to go, but I admire the way he's worked this year." ... In addition to unsigned franchise player Terrell Suggs, the following starters weren't at the voluntary practice: free safety Ed Reed, middle linebacker Ray Lewis and wide receiver Mark Clayton. ... Several players were limited during practice, including: offensive tackle Oniel Cousins (strained pectoral), cornerback Chris Carr (shoulder surgery), tight end L.J. Smith (sports hernia), linebacker Jason Phillips (torn meniscus) and defensive lineman Kelly Talavou (shoulder surgery). ... Safety Tom Zbikowski and undrafted rookie cornerback K.J. Gerard intercepted two passes apiece. ... Wide receiver Marcus Smith caught a long touchdown pass from backup quarterback Troy Smith. ... Cornerback Fabian Washington (shoulder and neck surgeries) is no longer wearing a red jersey as well as outside linebacker Antwan Barnes (pectoral surgery). ... The Ravens spent this week preparing game plans for AFC North opponents, readying for the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday, the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday and the Pittsburgh Steelers today. ... The Ravens stocked a large pond with large-mouth bass, small-mouth bass, striped bass and catfish for a fishing tournament and barbecue following practice Tuesday. Harbaugh indicated that it was a "catch-and-release" policy in a departure from what he usually stresses when it comes to holding onto the football. "We've done some catch and release out here as a matter of fact," Harbaugh joked.


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