If the Ravens opened the 2011 season today, cornerback Domonique Foxworth says he could play.
The problem is that no one knows when the next NFL season will open because of the slow pace of negotiations between league owners and the National Football League Players Association over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There is a threat of a lockout by the owners when the current CBA expires after March 3. And if that happens, recovering injured players can't come to their respective facilities and will have to find a new place to train.
Foxworth, an NFLPA executive committee member, is one of those players. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a non-contact drill the day before training camp opened last year.
According to Foxworth, his knee is about 70 to 80 percent healed. But if the lockout goes into effect, he can no longer work with team trainers at the facility.
"Right now, I'm working out with the trainers, trying to improve on some technique issues," said Foxworth. "But I've already begun trying to locate another facility so I can continue to prepare for next season.
"At first, I was optimistic for weeks about the negotiations. Then we hit a speed bump. It seems like some people on the other side have a definite interest in wanting a lockout because they want us to feel pain, to give in."
In the Ravens' situation with Foxworth, there will be no direct winner. The Ravens' secondary is in a state of flux. Both Josh Wilson and Chris Carr, the two starting cornerbacks, reserve cornerback Fabian Washington and starting strong safety Dawn Landry are expected to become unrestricted free agents at some point before the start of the 2011 season.
A healthy Foxworth, with two years left on his contract, is expected to stabilize the unit, at least that's the plan.
"If we had to play today, I could," said Foxworth. "Right now, everyone else thinks I'm ahead of schedule, but not me. I'm comfortable, but still very conscious of it [the knee]. I think once I get back out on the field, I will regain total confidence."
"I've been working out with some local receivers who think they need the work, but at the same time I have to be cautious, and not rush myself," said Foxworth. "The guys keep telling me there is plenty of time."
Two of those guys are Washington and Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb. Like Foxworth, both suffered torn ACL's that forced them off the field a various points during the 2009 season.
When it came to advice, Foxworth got it firsthand.
"They made me feel a lot better because I had somebody else who had been through it," said Foxworth. "When I was going through a hard workout, I would look over and, no offense to them, but say if they made it through it, I should be able to do it. And we have a trainer who has been through these before and has been a great help."
No one knows for sure if Foxworth will return at 100 percent, but the odds are in his favor. He is still young (27), and works extremely hard.
He struggled at the beginning of 2009, but played well from the mid-season on, finishing with 53 tackles and four interceptions and knocking down 16 passes.
If he returns, it would ease a lot of concerns for the Ravens. Foxworth would feel a lot better as well.
"This was the first injury of my career," said Foxworth, about to enter his seventh year. "I was just running with the receiver and he cut, and I cut, and that was it. I thought it was a sprain at first. Later on, I got very angry.
"I thought I had played well at the end of last season, that our defense was playing well and so was Joe [quarterback Joe Flacco]. Like everyone else, I thought this was our year, that we were going to the Super Bowl. When I got injured, I thought I let everyone down — my team, the city, myself. But I'm ready to play again. I just went and got the DVD's of my favorite cornerbacks, which I always study during the offseason. I'm prepared and I want to work. You never know what the future is going to hold."