There were no shortage of people in the Ravens’ organization who believed top receiver Derrick Mason would be back with the club this season despite announcing his intent to retire last month. The only surprising thing about his return, to some, was that it came just five days into camp.
Mason’s coaches and teammates had many reasons for believing he would not walk away from the game. He was around the team all offseason, working hard to come back from a shoulder injury. He is as competitive as it gets, he is hungry to win a title, and, they figured, after being away from it all for a few weeks, that passion would return. Indeed, it has.
Mason spoke about his decision to come back to the Ravens Saturday — he will join the team for practice Sunday — and expressed a sentiment many already knew in their hearts. “I still have an intense fire inside me, and I want to play,” Mason said in remarks released by the Ravens. “My family and I wanted to finish it out the right way.”
Mason, 35, announced his retirement shortly after the murder of good friend and former teammate Steve McNair, and it was clearly a time of intense emotion for Mason and his family. Some speculated that Mason may have been using retirement as a bargaining ploy, but league sources said there have been no alterations made to Mason’s contract at all, which has one-year remaining worth $3 million (Mason had asked the team for an extension earlier in the offseason).
The Ravens could fine Mason $17,000 for each of the five days he missed, and although a team source said that a decision on that was not final, I would not be surprised if it was not applied in this case. In reality, Mason was not going to do much the first few weeks of camp, anyway, as a precaution for his shoulder and given his experience and knowledge in this system. Some projected a mid-August return, but given Mason’s supreme conditioning and work ethic, even a return as late as that would not have caused a stir among team officials.
Now, instead, he’s back plenty early, and no one should be happier than second-year quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco threw for 2,971 yards as a rookie, with Mason accounting for 1,037 himself, or 35 percent of that total.
Randoms: The Vikings are breathing a sigh of relief that QB Tarvaris Jackson’s knee injury is not serious (initial MRI results revealed a mild MCL sprain, with a return to practice projected for next week, according to a league source). But, two clear questions arise: 1) What the heck is any defensive player doing rolling up on a QB, especially early in camp? 2) Was there a person in America, whom, upon hearing the news that Jackson went down at practice, that did not immediately think about Mississippi 4, and when the next flight bound for Minnesota departed? … WR Hakeem Nick’s five-year deal with the Giants is worth a max of $12.54 million, with about $6 million guaranteed, according to a league source. With a few receivers in the fold now, I’d expect more receivers to get done in the next few days as the market comes into better shape … The redeye was brutal last night. Not sure if there is some weather stuff going on or what, but the turbulence on the flights up and back was pretty intense. Flight attendants could barely get up, and sleeping was next to impossible. Itching to get me a power nap … Hope you guys are having a great weekend.