Ravens defensive tackle Kelly Gregg's knee has survived several offseason minicamps, but the big test comes in late July when training camp opens. That's when something has to break.
Hopefully, it's nothing in his knee.
"That's when I'll find out for sure," said Gregg, who had microfracture surgery on his left knee on Oct. 8, forcing him to miss all of last season. "There is a point you have to get by where you feel comfortable with the knee. I feel fine with the structure, now it's just a matter of playing. If it is going to break, then it's going to break."
Gregg participated in the minicamps, and unlike a year ago, he reported no swelling in his knee after practice. But there wasn't the constant contact as in training camp. And Gregg wasn't getting double-teamed or trap-blocked as he will during the regular season.
A defensive tackle's knee has to twist and bend in many ways.
"To have no swelling, that was important," said Gregg, who is entering his 10th season. "Right now, I have to say the knee feels great. The only problem is working through hip soreness because I haven't participated in drills for a while, and even my hand is sore from getting in a stance again. But I'll continue to work out hard, and I have to report two days before training camp. I'll be ready to go."
Carrying the load
Ravens coach John Harbaugh has made the proper assessment of fullback Le'Ron McClain. It's obvious that McClain is heavier than a year ago, and has to lose about 10 to 12 pounds heading into training camp.
But it's really no big deal. A lot of players, especially offensive and defensive linemen, balloon up during the offseason. Unlike a year ago, though, McClain, who is listed at 6 feet and 260 pounds, has attended offseason workouts in Baltimore.
The Ravens have kept a guarded eye on McClain, which is a good thing.
"Le'Ron is different this year from last year," Harbaugh said. "He had the offseason with us. Le'Ron has been here every day from March 16 on that we've had a workout. He's really worked hard. He's probably 10 or 12 pounds heavier than he'll be when we play, but he's also in great shape. So although he is carrying a lot of weight, cardiovascularly and strength-wise, he's in really good shape."
There is a lot of talk about starting right guard Marshal Yanda's possible return to the field.
Some reports have him returning late in training camp and others have the third-year player out of Iowa returning soon after the regular season starts. I'm not that concerned.
Yanda had surgery in September to repair medial and posterior collateral ligaments in his right knee. Because he is one of the toughest players on the team, I expect Yanda to return ahead of schedule, so I wouldn't be surprised if he is ready for the season opener.
You don't have to worry about players like Yanda or Gregg skipping out on training or rehabilitation sessions. They're both warriors in the true sense of the word when it comes to football.
Do Jets have Rex's back?
Former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is either going to become the next mayor of New York, or Jets fans will eventually run him out of town.
I've always liked Ryan's bravado because he is just like his old man, former Philadelphia and Arizona head coach Buddy Ryan.
Rex Ryan was always able to talk the talk in Baltimore because defensive players such as Tony Siragusa , Rob Burnett, Michael McCrary, Ray Lewis, Jamie Sharper and Peter Boulware helped him back it up.
I'm not sure the Jets have those types of players on their roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The New York media love Ryan because he is filling their notebooks and selling a lot of newspapers.
But if the Jets start losing, the media will use some of those same outrageous quotes to haunt him.
Strong work ethic
Second-year receiver Marcus Smith might help the Ravens one day, but it probably won't happen this year.
Smith works as hard as any of the Ravens receivers in practice. With starters Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton and No. 3 Demetrius Williams missing time with injuries, Smith has gotten a lot of work but hasn't distinguished himself except as a hard worker.
Regardless, the Ravens are either stuck or content with their present group because there are hardly any attractive receivers available on the free-agent market.
It looks as though the Ravens will use the three-headed monster approach again at running back this season with Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and McClain. Some head coaches prefer having the single feature back, because it's certainly easy to game-plan for one back with multiple skills than several backs with limited skills.
But Harbaugh has no preference.
"I prefer the best way for us to be successful," Harbaugh said. "If its one running back or three running backs, we just need to get the job done."
It sounds fishy
After a recent practice, Harbaugh talked about how the team had stocked the pond on team property with large- and small-mouth bass, striped bass and catfish. It supposedly is great for team morale.
But besides the players and coaches, I wonder how some of the other employees in the building felt about pumping money to stock a pond when the Ravens, like most companies, have had to cut their budgets.