Can Cody turn corner?

Often-injured linebacker tries old spot at end

That old college try

July 25, 2008|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

All Dan Cody has to show for his three years in the NFL are four injuries, 16 total plays and an immeasurable amount of frustration.

Now, starting what could be his last training camp with the Ravens, Cody is working at a new position, but has the same goal in mind - just stay on the field.

Switching from outside linebacker to defensive end, the hard-luck former second-round pick is optimistic this year could finally be his big break, one that won't land him on injured reserve for the first time in his career.

"I want to show that I can come back from it," Cody said. "It hasn't been easy. I don't want to say the word, 'depressed,' but it'll kill your spirit. It's kind of like that lion locked up in the zoo. You wonder why he is so sad. It's just that you're not able to do your thing."

Cody battled depression in college, an ordeal some think caused a first-round talent to drop to the second round in 2005.

But he has never had to deal with such a series of devastating injuries. He damaged ligaments in both knees and broke his left foot.

When the Ravens drafted him three years ago, they had envisioned him as the heir to Adalius Thomas at outside linebacker. After finishing three straight seasons on injured reserve, the hope is for Cody to contribute as a pass-rushing end.

"He's our kind of guy," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "When we saw him on tape [at the University of Oklahoma], we couldn't wait to see him. But it's been unfortunate. Just as soon as you think you're getting him back, something would go wrong. Hopefully, that's in the past. He deserves a chance to play."

In his first training camp practice as a rookie, Cody sprained the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee by planting his foot to change directions.

A year later, in 2006, he had to wait until midseason to make his NFL debut, playing well in 14 snaps. The next week, he collided with defensive end Trevor Pryce as a result of a busted play. On just his second play of the game, Cody had torn the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Trying to come back last year, he tore cartilage in his right knee during a noncontact drill in minicamp. After having surgery and taking a couple of months to recover, Cody resumed practicing during the season only to break his left foot while warming up.

This year, Cody has avoided any major setback. He wears an "arm and hammer" patch on his left shoulder, signifying he participated in at least 85 percent of the team's offseason workouts.

"It might be a stretch that I feel as healthy as I felt in college," Cody said. "But when camp is over with, I feel like I should have turned a serious corner."

Turning the corner is what Cody is concentrating on when he's on the field. Returning to his old college position, Cody is coming off the edge as a defensive end.

The Ravens decided to make the move because of Cody's injury-filled past.

"It seems like the times he's been hurt, he's been doing something as an outside 'backer, whether it's freakish or not," Ryan said. "This is going to give him a chance to play and be physical and get after it. So far, so good."

As a defensive end at Oklahoma, Cody was one of the team's top playmakers, showing a fierce relentlessness on the field. He finished with 25 career sacks, 49 tackles for losses and 42 quarterback pressures.

At first, Cody wasn't sure whether he could play end.

"I didn't want to think that I couldn't play it," he said. "When I was just trying to play it, I was coming back from all of those injuries so I was beat to hell. But once they moved me, everything came back pretty naturally. It's been an easy transition."

This will be a telling season for Cody.

He is entering the final year of his four-year, $2.6 million contract. If Cody can't stay healthy, it is unknown what the future holds.

Still, Cody's perseverance has provided a reason for hope.

"Some guys might have hung it up," Ryan said. "Shoot, he's persistent. That's the way he plays, too. That's the beauty of the young man."

*Note The Ravens cut fullback-tight end Jake Nordin.

Training camp today

@McDaniel College; practices: 8:45 a.m., 2:45 p.m.

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