Ravens defensive tackle Terrence Cody says he will take his time coming back from offseason hip surgery, but time might not be on Cody's side any more.
Coming off a disappointing 2012 season and indirectly called out by general manager Ozzie Newsome after the season, Cody has a lot to prove, especially since it's the final year of his rookie contract.
The fourth-year defensive lineman told the Baltimore Sun that he doesn't expect to be a full-go when training camp begins later this month.
""I don't know yet," Cody told the Sun while working at Jameel McClain's annual football and fitness clinic last weekend. "We'll know once it gets closer to camp time, but I think I'm going to take my time, though."
Cody certainly doesn't want to rush back from an injury and risk aggravating it, but the Ravens made several offseason moves to shore up the defensive front, which could chip away at Cody's playing time. And with free agency looming in 2014, Cody will be highly motivated to show well this season.
Cody started every game two years ago, but then lost his starting defensive tackle job to Ma'ake Kemoeatu. Cody ended up starting three games and finished with 25 tackles. Kemoeatu, 34, was not re-signed after the season.
The hip injury and an elbow injury might have factored in Cody's 2012 season, but Cody also thinks his scaled-down frame was a factor. After playing at about 370 pounds at Alabama, he dropped more than 30 pounds last season. The Ravens listed him officially at 341, though he told the Ravens Web site he was at about 325 last season. He thinks that helped his conditioning but hurt his strength.
No more "Mount Cody," his collegiate nickname. "Now I’m like ‘Speed Bump Cody’ because I’m smaller,” he told the team Web site.
It quickly became clear that improving the defensive front would be a point of emphasis this offseason.
When asked after the season to identify the Ravens' biggest needs, Newsome said, "the middle of the defense." Of course, losing future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis was a major factor, but Newsome said, "We think we have to get better at defensive tackle."
The Ravens then made moves to do that, signing free agent defensive lineman Marcus Spears and Chris Canty and drafting defensive tackle Brandon Williams.
If Cody has to sit out the beginning of training camp, the Ravens will give a long look to Williams, the highly-touted, physical rookie out of Missouri Southern State. Spears, entering his ninth season, is also a veteran run-stuffer, and the Ravens have flexibility to show a lot of different looks with the upgraded defensive front.
It remains to be seen how quickly Cody will be part of that, but for his sake, the sooner the better.