Mason's Fill-in Also Retires

Citing Flare-up Of Knee Injury, Receiver Bennett 'Unable To Play'

July 27, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

In another bizarre development for the Ravens at wide receiver, Drew Bennett surprisingly announced his retirement Sunday night.

Bennett, 30, who signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum ($745,000), was expected to report to Ravens training camp today. The eight-year veteran said a previous knee injury "flared up" after returning home from his Friday workout with the Ravens, making him "realize that I am unable to play another NFL season."

"I want to thank Coach [John] Harbaugh, Coach [Cam] Cameron and [general manager] Ozzie Newsome for offering me the opportunity to be a part of their outstanding organization, and apologize to them for this unfortunate situation," Bennett said in a statement Sunday.

Bennett's announcement comes 13 days after Derrick Mason decided to retire. There is still a chance that Mason could return to the Ravens.

A call to a Ravens spokesman was not immediately returned.

The Ravens likely will sign another veteran wide receiver this week. The team has had contact with free-agent wide receiver Joe Horn. Other free agents include D.J. Hackett, Amani Toomer, Justin McCareins, Reggie Williams and Darrell Jackson.

Bennett passed a Ravens physical after he beat out Hackett, Chris Hannon and rookie Justin Brown at Friday's workout. It was believed that the biggest concern was Bennett's foot. Last season with the St. Louis Rams, he broke a bone in his left foot in the season opener in September and missed the remainder of the season.

This offseason, Bennett had tryouts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans.

After Friday's workout with the Ravens, he told reporters, "I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel strong, all the corny stuff you're supposed to say when you have a workout."

On Sunday, Bennett's swollen knee hadn't improved. It probably will require surgery, a league source said.

"After an offseason of workouts and rehab, I thought I was ready to play again, but it became apparent over this weekend that while my mind is willing, my body will not be able to make it through another NFL season," Bennett said. "I have been blessed to have the opportunity to play in the NFL for as long as I have, but it is time for me to move on to the next chapter in my life."

Without Mason, the Ravens' wide receiver group has become the team's most glaring weakness. The top four receivers currently on the Ravens' roster - Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith and Kelley Washington - combined for 55 catches and four touchdowns last season.

Bennett's decision continues a rough stretch for the Ravens. In the past 15 months, five players have retired from the team: Bennett, Mason, Jonathan Ogden, Steve McNair and Willie Anderson.

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