Ravens CB Williams mounts impressive salary drive

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Ravens CB Williams mounts impressive salary drive

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) It was with no small amount of angst that cornerback Cary Williams declined a $15 million, three-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens during the past offseason.

Williams thought he was worth more. And lately, it's looking like he might be right.

After playing in 42 NFL games without an interception, Williams has picked off four passes in his last five games. He leads the AFC in interceptions, and his efficient play has taken some of the sting out of the loss of injured cornerback Lardarius Webb.

``He's a guy that I really believe in,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Williams. ``Cary is a competitor. Cary is a fighter. Cary wants to do well so badly, and he's kind of an emotional guy. That's one of the things that I love about him.''

Williams, 27, took a rather unconventional route to the Baltimore defensive backfield - beginning with his trip out of Liberty City, the Florida neighborhood where he was born and raised.

``It's one of the murder capitals in the world. It's dark and there's not a lot of hope,'' Williams said Wednesday. ``You see people getting killed, friends dying over drugs and gang violence. It's a struggle to get through.''

Williams then played two seasons at Fordham and two at Washburn University in Kansas before being selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft by Tennessee.

He spent the majority of his first season on the Titans' practice squad before being signed by the Ravens in late November 2009. After first being used almost exclusively on special teams, Williams started all 16 games last year.

In August, he spurned Baltimore's three-year contract offer, taking the chance that he will be worth more to the Ravens - or another team - next year.

``I felt like I was worth more. I felt like I brought a lot of the table,'' Williams said. ``There were a lot of third (string) corners that were getting more than that. In my eyes, I felt like I deserved a lot better. I think I played up to that billing thus far in the season.''

Lately, yes he has. Not so much in September, especially in a game against New England in which Tom Brady repeatedly picked on Williams instead of throwing on Webb's side of the field.

Brady ``made me a better player,'' Williams said. ``I'm not perfect. Some days, guys are going to have better games than you. I understand that's part of growing up, I'm a younger guy. I haven't had much game experience until last season. I want to put my best foot forward. Fortunately for me, I've been doing it the last few weeks.''

The trend started immediately after the New England game, when Williams took his first NFL interception 63 yards for a touchdown in a 23-16 win over Cleveland. He followed that with pickoffs against Kansas City and Dallas, then came up empty at Houston before intercepting a pass last weekend in Cleveland.

Williams hopes to keep the momentum going Sunday when the Ravens (6-2) host Oakland (3-5).

``People can say it's the contract negotiations or he's going into his last year, whatever, but Cary is a focused football player,'' Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said. ``People have said all sorts of crazy things about him, people have dogged him, but nobody understands that he's his worst critic. We're his worst critic. We want greatness from everybody.''

Williams isn't motivated by money. He wants to be an exceptional football player, and if he achieves that goal he will be paid accordingly.

``Fifteen million dollars is a great deal and it's a wonderful opportunity,'' he said. ``But at the end of the day, my scope has never been small. I take that from days I grew up in Liberty City. I want to continue to strive for more and greater things.''

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Reynolds says he committed "sin" of asking ex-Steeler for advice

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Reynolds says he committed "sin" of asking ex-Steeler for advice

OWINGS MILLS – Nobody has to tell Ravens rookie Keenan Reynolds about the intensity of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. Reynolds admitted Friday that when seeking advice on switching from quarterback in college to wide receiver in the NFL, he asked former Steelers star Hines Ward for advice.

“I know that’s like a cardinal sin in this building,” Reynolds said after his first day of Ravens rookie minicamp. “We got to talk before the draft, to ease everybody’s mind.”

Ravens fans will certainly forgive Reynolds, especially if Ward offers helpful hints. He has also been consulting former Washington Redskin and current CSN analyst Brian Mitchell, which could help him progress as well.

As a sixth-round pick, Reynolds hopes to make an immediate impact as a receiver-returner with the Ravens, after a brilliant career playing quarterback at Navy.

Reynolds got encouraging news off the field this week, when Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, said he would do everything in his power to make sure Reynolds’ Navy commitments would not interfere with playing for the Ravens.

Reynolds said he had not received a further update on the Navy’s plans for him. But a precedent for Reynolds playing NFL football right away has already been set. Patriots long snapper Joe Cordona, who was Reynolds’ teammate at Navy, played his entire rookie season with New England last year while also working at a Naval Preparatory Academy in Rhode Island.

Cordona has been a sounding board for Reynolds.

“I’ve been blowing his phone up this whole process,” Reynolds said. “I was blowing him up on draft day. He has really helped, and his experience, obviously, being able to serve and play, has been really helpful.”

Reynolds has known for months that his NFL future would probably not be at quarterback.

“When I got invited to the (East-West) Shrine game, I saw that I wasn’t a quarterback anymore,” said Reynolds, who was listed as a running back for that game.

But Reynolds is not complaining, and he knows many people are rooting for him.

“This is an opportunity to pursue the dream at the next level, and I’m embracing it with everything I can,” Reynolds said.

Ravens assign jersey numbers, Ronnie Stanley to wear No. 79

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Ravens assign jersey numbers, Ronnie Stanley to wear No. 79

OWINGS MILLS -- For football jersey lovers, the Ravens have assigned numbers to their 11 draft picks. They are as follows:

6 – WR Keenan Reynolds

43 – CB Tavon Young

48 – RB Kenneth Dixon

49 – CB Maurice Canady

51 – OLB Kamalei Correa

72 – OT Alex Lewis

79 – OT Ronnie Stanley

81 – WR Chris Moore

91 – OLB Matt Judon

92 – DE Bronson Kaufusi

Correa will be wearing the number worn by former Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith, who signed with the Buccaneers this offseason. Kaufusi will wear the number once worn by former Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Haloti Ngata.

Four more draft picks sign with Ravens, raising total to six

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Four more draft picks sign with Ravens, raising total to six

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens announced the signing of four more draft picks Friday -- OLB Kamalei Correa, DT Willie Henry, OT Alex Lewis, and WR Chris Moore.

That meant six of the 11 Ravens’ 11 draft picks were under contract at the start of Friday’s two-day rookie minicamp. OLB Matt Judon and RB Kenneth Dixon had already signed.

Correa was drafted in the second round, the first of three players the Ravens targeted to improve their pass rush. Lewis, a fourth-rounder, is expected to compete for a backup spot at either tackle position. Moore is a deep threat wide receiver who has a chance to earn immediate playing time. Henry is a run-stopping defensive lineman who has a chance to be part of the defensive tackle rotation.

First-round pick, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, still had not signed as of early Friday afternoon. However, first-round signings traditionally take the longest.

The Ravens also announced the signing of 11 undrafted free agents:

G Jarell Broxton, Baylor

DT Travon Coley, Florida Atlantic

C Anthony Fabiano, Harvard

ILB  Cavellis Luckett, Middle Tennessee St.  

K Will Lutz, Georgia St.

OT Stephane Nembot, Colorado

OLB Victor Ochi, Stony Brook

OLB Mario Ojemudia, Michigan

ILB Patrick Onwuasor, Portland St.

DT Michael Pierce, Samford

C Matt Skura, Duke