Pryce's game is in great shape, and so is he

WESTMINSTER -- During the Baltimore Ravens' annual conditioning test upon arriving at training camp, veteran defensive end Trevor Pryce loves to show off his superior fitness. One year, the four-time Pro Bowl defensive end ran a portion of it backwards and still easily made all of his required time trials.

This year, Pryce actually shuffled sideways to cross the finish line as he aced the test.

It's a testament to Pryce's unique regimen of soccer, a nutritious diet that avoids junk food and genetics. And it represents a few of the reasons why the 34-year-old is still going strong as he enters his 13th NFL season.

"I run, a lot," said Pryce, a lean 6-foot-5, 290-pounder. "I condition like nobody else in the league my size. It's about getting your body in shape and running faster than everybody else. I've done that all my life.

"I eat right. Honestly, I haven't even eaten anything yet today. Hell no, I don't eat fried foods. The worst thing I do is sushi. I do a lot of that. That sticky rice will make you fat."

Pryce regularly runs sprints in the thin air of Colorado to get his lung capacity prepared for the rigors of football season.

The Rocky Mountains lung-busting conditions makes the underrated heat of Westminster feel like nothing.

"I told our strength coach I can breathe here," Pryce said. "Try running those gassers in that Colorado heat. It will make you want to faint."

In his quest to challenge himself even more, Pryce also did some investigating about the soccer powerhouse Manchester United's conditioning test.

Every day, Pryce tried to match the quick-twitch ability of soccer players that he outweighs by 100 pounds or more.

And he nearly passed the soccer conditioning program. Minus his lunch, that is.

"Manchester United holds everybody to a high standard, and I tried to do it and I never passed it," Pryce said. "It's impossible, especially for somebody my size. I came close to making it, but I puked."

Pryce is a major soccer aficionado, playing in a coed league back in Denver during the offseason.

As much as Pryce enjoys the internationally popular sport, he plays it mostly for the purpose of gaining an edge on the football field and to maintain his agility and stamina.

"I love soccer, I come from a soccer family," said Pryce, whose sister is on the U.S. national soccer team and his father plays soccer against men half his age. "My sister plays soccer in the Olympics. My dad runs these kids ragged on the soccer field. He's thin, he's short and he's wiry. It's all genetics."

However, Pryce came to a realization last season that he had probably gone too far in his quest to get into top shape.

In a game against Cleveland last season, hefty Browns nose guard Shaun "Big Baby" Rogers approached Pryce and said, 'You lost a lot of weight, big man.'

"He was right, their offensive linemen had started shoving me around," Pryce said. "I was too light in the butt. I needed to gain some weight, so I made the adjustment."

For his career, Pryce has recorded 518 career tackles, 83 1/2 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

"Trevor's an animal," rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher said. "He's tough to block. If you slow him down, you know that you've done something right."

And the leadership Pryce provided last season by advocating coach John Harbaugh's intense approach helped Harbaugh immensely in the locker room.

"At first, I think we had some guys going left and some going right," Pryce said. "If it's that way, we're going to get killed. Nothing cures bitching and moaning like winning football games.

"If you win on Sundays, there's not much to complain about. All of us had to give him a chance and see what this guy is about."

During his first season in Baltimore, Pryce led the team with 13 sacks to go with 73 tackles. Over the 21 regular-season games, though, he has generated just 6 1/2 sacks while dealing with a broken wrist and a torn pectoral muscle. Last year, Pryce was limited to 4 1/2 sacks. It was the second-lowest pass-rush production during a season where he didn't miss a game.

"The big thing for me is pressuring the quarterback, and I had a ton of pressures," said Pryce, who was signed to a five-year, $25 million contract in 2006 that includes $10 million in guaranteed money after being cut by the Denver Broncos. "I had 10 pressures against the Dolphins. I keep getting to the quarterback and they keep throwing the ball away. It's not about sacks. It's about if you pressure the quarterback consistently, and that's what I do."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Notebook: Gooden sidelined with "fatigue"

Gaither has minor trapezius injury, Cousins taken off field

By Aaron Wilson

WESTMINSTER -- Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Tavares Gooden didn't practice due to problems stemming from his sports hernia surgery that he underwent last year.

Although Gooden emphasized that there's no reason to be concerned after missing the past three practices, it's unclear when he might return.

Gooden indicated that there's no tear and no reason why he would need to have another surgical procedure after undergoing hip flexor and sports hernia surgeries as a rookie last year.

"It's nothing serious," said Gooden, the projected replacement for Bart Scott at the linebacker spot next to All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis. "I had minor pain involving my surgery, and I've got to have a certain time to be out. I'm strengthening it right now. I got a little fatigued. We're working on it right now.

"The rest will help it out. I haven't done anything since last year and after running around for 10 days in a row, my body needs a rest. Nothing's torn. I'm good."

Meanwhile, offensive tackle Jared Gaither remained sidelined with a left trapezius muscle injury.

"I just want it to settle down," Gaither said. "It's nothing serious. Hopefully, I'll be back in a day."

At first, offensive tackle Oniel Cousins seemed to incur a major left knee injury. After being down on the ground in obvious pain for a while, though, he got up and walked off the field.

Later on, Cousins was walking around with no trace of a limp. And he didn't have any tape or a brace on his knee.

Running back Willis McGahee had an ice pack applied to his left knee after banging it into a couple of linemen during a running drill. It's the same knee he had surgically repaired with an arthroscopic procedure this offseason, but the injury isn't believed to serious.

"There's nothing wrong with Willis' knee right now," Montgomery said. "He just got fell on. Willis has been doing good, no problems with the knee. We need to see what the repercussions are of him running into those linemen, but he said it felt good."

McGahee, who has had a strong training camp, was able to walk without a limp.

Tight end Edgar Jones' left thigh was heavily wrapped toward the end of practice.

Not practicing: linebacker Terrell Suggs (strained left heel), wide receivers Mark Clayton (left hamstring), Thomas White (hamstring) and Biren Ealy (groin), offensive guard Ben Grubbs (ankle), cornerback Samari Rolle (neck and groin) and defensive tackle Lamar Divens (hip flexor).

Tight end L.J. Smith, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury, said that he's back to about 75 percent.

"It's coming around," he said. "I ran a couple more routes this time. We're just trying to be smart. We're not playing yet. We haven't even played in a preseason game yet. If I feel any pain, I'll back off."

When asked if he'll be able to play in next week's preseason opener against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium, Smith replied: "Honestly, I don't know." REMEMBERING JIM JOHNSON: The Philadelphia Eagles' late, legendary defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was honored in a memorial service Friday in Philadelphia that Ravens coach John Harbaugh attended.

For Smith, it's a sad time.

"Jim lost his battle and it's very tough," Smith said. "I'm sure his family is grieving right now. As a coach, Jim didn't have many words. He just had a presence. You knew what he was about. It's a big loss to the game. He was a very good guy."

QUICK HITS: Wide receiver Justin Harper continues to command attention, catching a 70-yard touchdown pass from Troy Smith behind cornerback Frank Walker. ... The Ravens' first-string offensive line looked like this: Michael Oher at left tackle, David Hale at left guard, Matt Birk at center, Chris Chester at right guard and Marshal Yanda at right tackle. "I haven't played it since my rookie year, but we needed somebody," Yanda said. "So, you just go in there and play. It's like riding a bike." ... The offensive line struggled to protect the quarterback with Dawan Landry, Haloti Ngata and Willie Vandesteeg sacking quarterback Joe Flacco with Landry recording a safety. ...

Free safety Ed Reed intercepted a pass that skipped off the hands of tight end Todd Heap and returned it for a touchdown. ... Graham Gano converted 5 of 6 field goals and Steve Hauschka hit 3 of 4. ... Antwan Barnes, who also recovered a Demetrius Williams fumble, delivered a big hit on Ray Rice. ... Impressive undrafted rookie linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has seen action with the first-team defense. ... Former Ravens fourth-round running back P.J. Daniels, who wasn't retained as a restricted free agent after last season, visited practice. Daniels said that he tried out for the Buffalo Bills, but wasn't signed. He still hopes to play this season. ... Former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich and his family attended practice. ... The Ravens practice twice today, once at 8:45 a.m. and once at 2:45 p.m. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and cornerbacks are lifting after practice and will be unavailable for autographs. ... Oher hasn't watched the trailer to the upcoming movie that depicts his life. "I'm curious about it, but I don't know anything about it," Oher said. "It's cool, but I'm concentrating on football." ... Wide receiver Derrick Mason got into a heated exchange with Walker on the sidelines after telling the feisty cornerback that he's holding the receivers and would be flagged during a real game.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Ravens Insider Top Stories