Ricky Williams’ numbers (which can be found by clicking his name ... isn’t technology wonderful?) indicate that the veteran running back still has a good bit left in the tank and could help give the Ravens a proven, physical backup to Ray Rice.
Williams averaged 4.2 yards per carry last season with the Dolphins, a number which was a half-yard higher in 2009, when he posted 1,121 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
It’s Williams’ off-field history, however, which might have some fans questioning the Ravens’ decision to sign the running back to a two-year deal which could be worth up to $4 million.
Williams tested positive for marijuana in 2004, after which he decided to retire. He then returned in 2005, but was suspended for the entire 2006 season, after reportedly failing a drug test for the fourth time.
Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron knows Williams fairly well - Cameron was Williams’ head coach in Miami in 2007 - and he says he doesn’t think there’s any risk attached to his newest running back.
“I think a lot of those things are way, way in the past,” Cameron said. “My relationship, my experience with him - there is no risk. But, we’re all human. There’s risk with you, there’s risk with me. We’re all living and breathing and we all make mistakes. Ricky’s not perfect, but I know he’s got a great heart and he’s a great football player.”
Cameron said he’s excited to bring in a back with the experience and ability that Williams will provide.
“You look around the league, and you can’t have too many good backs,” Cameron said. “There were some teams last year that just ran out of running backs. So, he gives us depth, first and foremost. But, he gives us a proven playmaker, an outstanding runner, outstanding receiver and an outstanding pass protector. So, we’ll be able to give Ray and the rest of the guys in the backfield a blow. He knows this system, and he’s played extremely well in this system.”
Quarterback Joe Flacco says he looks forward to Williams adding a powerful aspect to the Ravens’ running attack, which lost big-bodied backs Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain this offseason.
“He’s a pretty legit dude,” Flacco said. “He looks like a big, strong guy, not somebody that I think a lot of people want to get in the way of.”
Reporters caught running back Ray Rice off guard with questions about Williams immediately after practice, as Rice had not gotten word of his newest teammate’s signing. Rice seemed excited about the prospect of having Williams, who won a Heisman Trophy in 1998 as a member of the Texas Longhorns, backing him up.
“Obviously, he’s a veteran that brings in a lot of leadership,” Rice said. “I’ve followed him. I’m a big college fan. We spoke a little bit on Twitter last year; lot of respect for each other, especially his game and what he’s been through. How could you not respect a Heisman Trophy winner?”