Vonta Leach’s road from the Ravens ... well, to the Ravens hasn’t been the easiest one.
The All-Pro fullback visited the Miami Dolphins after being released by Baltimore on June 11 and considered multiple other teams before deciding to return to the Ravens on a more cap-friendly contract.
No matter what it was like shopping for the right job, Leach is glad to have his old one back.
“It’s like I never left,” he said Wednesday, when meeting with the media for the first time since re-signing Monday. “It feels real good just to be back out there, to be back around some of the guys.
“It’s real nice. It was a frustrating process, but I’m glad I’m here. I wanted to be back, so I’m glad I’m here.”
Especially since he took the trouble to visit another organization, did he think he’d return? The Ravens believed he might when they first cut him loose, as general manager Ozzie Newsome stated that a reunion was possible.
“There was always a possibility that I wouldn’t be, but there was always that chance, even when it happened, that I would be,” Leach said.
And that came to fruition this week. Leach said he didn’t take the whole process personally even if it meant he’d be elsewhere after two years in Baltimore.
“I’ve been in the league a long time and I’ve seen a lot of stuff. I think I’ve probably been released maybe five times, maybe six times in my career,” he said. “So I’ve been here, seen it all, did it all. So hey, it’s just part of the business and unfortunately, I know first hand.”
Top tailback Ray Rice’s reaction was a positive one since Leach has been responsible for bulling through defensive lines and creating wide openings for the versatile rusher.
“He didn’t even know I was in the building (Monday), I didn’t even tell him I was coming up here,” Leach said. “So when he found out that I signed, he was pretty happy.
“I’m just happy to be back and whatever I’ve got to do, whatever role I have on this team this year, I’ll be ready for it.”
On Monday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh talked about the toughness Leach brings to the offense.
“Having Vonta back gives you a physical presence for sure with your offense - short yardage, goal line. Also, it’s a leadership presence,” Harbaugh told reporters. “Obviously, we’ve been hopeful that this would happen all along. This is not something that we weren’t hoping for, and it worked out in our favor.”
The signing likely reduces the first-year role of fourth-round fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was in line to fill Leach’s shoes in some way.
But Juszczyk didn’t seem bothered that Leach was brought back.
“I felt like Vonta coming back, it’s good for this team and the fact that that Vonta’s a great player, he’s a great blocker, he’s going to help this running game a lot,” Juszczyk said. “For myself, it’s somebody I can learn from. As far as having two fullbacks, I think we’re two different players and we can find roles for both of us.”