OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens never gave up hope of getting back fullback Vonta Leach, and Monday they got their wish.
Leach signed a two-year contract with the defending Super Bowl champions after failing to find a proper suitor in the free agent market.
“I’m excited about it. It’s great news,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ve been in contact, we’ve been talking all along. It worked out great for the Ravens.”
Leach paved the way for running back Ray Rice to gain 1,143 yards last season. Leach ran nine times for 32 yards during the regular season and scored a touchdown against Indianapolis during Baltimore’s run to the Super Bowl.
But Leach declined to renegotiate his contract during the offseason and was released by Baltimore in June. At the time, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome left open the possibility that Leach could come back, saying, “There could be an opportunity for him to return to the Ravens once he explores the free-agent market.”
That is exactly what happened.
Houston, Miami and the New York Giants expressed interest, but Leach ended up back to Baltimore, where he spent the past two seasons and earned two Pro Bowl invitations.
“He came in today to work out,” Harbaugh said after Monday’s practice. “Did a great job on the conditioning test, did a nice job in the workout. He’s ready to go, and we’re pleased to have him back.”
The Ravens are off Tuesday, so Leach should be back on the field Wednesday.
While he was gone, the Ravens drafted Harvard rookie Kyle Juszczyk at fullback. Juszczyk will become a second-stringer, but Harbaugh believes both fullbacks will be utilized.
“It’s good to have fullbacks,” Harbaugh said. “We normally have two during training camp and through the course of the season it will be valuable for us. There will be plenty of reps for those guys.”
Leach will get the majority of the time when the games count, though, beginning with the Sept. 5 opener in Denver.
“Vonta being here gives us a dimension that is valuable for us,” Harbaugh said. “When we head into the Denver game and thereafter, having him in the mix is going to be important.”
Leach, 31, broke into the NFL in 2004 with Green Bay. Although his job is usually open up holes for other runners, he has rushed for 70 yards and scored three touchdown in addition to catching 112 passes for 749 yards and four scores.
NOTES: Harbaugh said TE Dennis Pitta’s dislocated hip is not career-threatening. “It’s a very rare football injury,” the coach said. “The good news is that there’s a fracture, but it’s in the back part of the bone. There’s no ligament damage, no cartilage damage. He should be rehabbing in six to eight weeks.” … Two ice cream trucks drove onto the field after practice and served up treats to the players and coaches. Harbaugh got a banana boat. … Offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele returned to practice after missing three days with a hamstring injury.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)