Jared Gaither had an injury-filled 2009 season.
The Ravens’ left tackle dealt with neck, foot and ankle ailments throughout the year, causing him to miss a total of five games.
That missed time, Gaither says, will inspire him during his offseason workouts throughout the next handful of months.
“Definitely my main focus is [to] get stronger this offseason, cut out some of the injuries for next season and be prepared,” Gaither said. “It definitely was tough [battling injuries] mentally and physically, to make sure I’m prepared and make sure I’m ready.”
Gaither says he won’t need any surgery this offseason to repair anything in his foot or ankle, but there is something he’s looking forward to that he says will get him feeling better physically.
“Just a little bit of rest,” Gaither said with a smile. “That’ll be adequate. I’ll be just fine.”
Gaither will be a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Ravens will certainly keep him around for 2010. Because of the uncapped year that is expected to come next season, Gaither won’t be able to become an unrestricted free agent until after the 2012 season, meaning there’s a good chance he’ll be in Baltimore for a few more years.
“I’m not really worried about the situation,” Gaither said. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be here. I look forward to a couple more years of playing with the ball club.”
As I mentioned earlier, the Ravens love the young talent they’ve got at both tackle positions. Gaither, 23, is going into his fourth NFL season, while Michael Oher, also 23, just finished his rookie year.
Gaither said he sees the duo staying in Baltimore for a while and providing the bookends to a young, talented Ravens offensive line.
“I feel great about the situation, but that’s ultimately up to the people upstairs,” he said. “I couldn’t call it, but I would love to be here with Mike for the rest of our careers. That would be great.”