- - Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ricky Williams has few regrets.

When the veteran running back reminisces, he knows it’s littered with checkers. But it’s all been part of a journey for the former Heisman Trophy winner, who claims he wouldn’t be where he is today without where he’s been.

“When I think back to those times, from the outside looking in, I was suspended and in a lot of trouble,” Williams said. “Internally, I was able to travel, see the world and work on myself. All told, I’m happy with where I am today.”

Williams violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy four times, the fourth causing him to sit out the 2006 season, which led to him playing for the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL.

He prematurely retired in 2004, just two days before his former team, the Miami Dolphins, opened training camp.

Williams, who signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, will be the primary backup for running back Ray Rice. Williams said he expects eight to 12 carries each game as a third down and situational type of runner.

Williams, who ranks fifth among active players with 9,565 rushing yards, is reuniting with Cam Cameron, the Ravens’ offensive coordinator. Cameron was Williams‘ coach in Miami for the 2007 season when Williams returned from an 18-month drug-related suspension. Williams played in only one game that season, rushing for 15 yards on six carries against Pittsburgh before a season-ending pectoral injury forced an early exit.

“It gives us depth first and foremost, but it gives us a proven playmaker and an outstanding runner, receiver and pass protector,” Cameron said.

At 34, Williams sees football in a different light. While he once took the game for granted, he said he now holds more respect for what it’s done for his career. Though he’s seen his share of trials and tribulations within the sport, Williams said football has helped place his life into a different perspective.

“I’m not 20 years old anymore, so my priorities are a little different,” he said.

Williams, clean-shaven without any hair topping his head, no longer sports the dreadlocks he once wore long before the trend caught on around the NFL.

That image is with the rest of Williams‘ past as he grows with age.

“I think we all go through phases,” Williams said. “[In] my heart, I’m a rebel. But I think I’ve found more productive and mature ways to express my rebellion.”

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