WESTMINSTER, Md. -- A day late and quite short of breath, rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody passed his conditioning test Wednesday and formally launched his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens.
Cody, a 350-pounder out of Alabama, twice failed the test Tuesday. The drill consists of running 25 yards, doubling back, resting for 70 seconds and repeating it twice.
"It's down and back, down and back, down and back. It's not complicated (but) it's a tough test," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You've got to go out there and compete."
Cody conquered the drill Wednesday at 7 a.m. and was removed from the physically unable to perform list before participating in his first NFL training-camp practice.
Along the way, the second-round pick (57th overall) picked up a nickname that will probably stick for a long time. Veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, in addition to dispensing valuable advice, began calling the rookie "Cheeseburger."
Cody laughed about it. He probably would have been OK with being called a lot worse, such was his relief to get on the field after watching his teammates work Tuesday.
"Yesterday, as I was sitting to the side watching them practice, I felt bad. I felt like I was letting them down," Cody said. "Now that I'm back out there, it feels good."
After failing the test Tuesday morning and again in the afternoon, Cody received encouragement from his new teammates and a frantic phone call from home.
"I had my family call me and ask me what was going on. I had to tell them," he said. "I slept on it and got up this morning with a head full of steam and passed it. It was a relief."
And so began the NFL career of a two-time All-Southeastern Conference star who helped the Crimson Tide win the 2010 BCS national championship.
"We weren't too hard on him," Ravens veteran linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "That's a tough task, especially for those big guys. Guys who are 350 or so, to run that test is pretty impressive."
There won't be many times in his career when Cody is asked to run hard for 50 yards, but the Ravens want to make sure their players are fit enough to withstand two practices per day under the summer sun.
"Someone asked me (Tuesday) if I was surprised -- not about Cody -- but about guys failing conditioning tests," Harbaugh said with a wry smile. "I would have to admit I was surprised this morning when they told me he passed the conditioning test. But we have it on tape and will verify the results of that test. Obviously it shows that he was in shape."
Not exactly ideal shape, but good enough to get on the practice field. And at this point in the summer, that's all that really matters.
"He's got to lose a little weight, and that will happen in training camp," Harbaugh said. "But the fact that he's in shape is important. That's the bottom line. It shows that he's done the work. The fact that he knows how to run the test, and to really push through it and get it done is a credit to him."
Cody is expected to provide help to Ngata and Kelly Gregg in stopping the run. But Harbaugh believes the rookie also might turn out to be an effective pass rusher.
"We didn't label him as just this and just that," Harbaugh said. "We basically think this guy can play football for us. So whatever he grows into, if he can push the pocket on third down for us, that would be great. I see no reason why he can't do that for us. That's what training camp is all about. That's why you put the pads on."
The Ravens didn't put on their pads during the first two days of camp. That will occur Friday morning during the first full-squad practice.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press