Shane Ray begins his redemption tour

Published May. 1, 2015 8:11 p.m. ET

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Shane Ray assured everyone his foot is on the mend. His reputation may take a little more time.

The Denver Broncos first-round selection arrived in the NFL with baggage after his citation for possession of pot three days before the draft. That overshadowed the little detail the pass rusher out of Missouri has a hyper-extended right big toe he's been too busy to properly rehab.

No worries, he insisted, he will be healed by the start of the season.

''From the reports I've had from doctors, they said I didn't need surgery,'' Ray said Friday as he met coaches and the media. ''I haven't been able to give myself the medical attention I need. Being here, I will receive that and I think I should be ready to go as soon as possible.''

The Broncos traded up to draft Ray at No. 23 after he slid down the draft board following his run-in. He was issued a misdemeanor citation Monday when a trooper in Missouri found a small amount of marijuana in his car after pulling him over for speeding.

''It was a minor setback for a great comeback,'' said Ray, who was considered a top-15 talent.

He maintained it was a one-time lapse of judgment. But he understands people will be closely watching him now.


That won't be an issue, his mom said.

''This scared the heck out of him,'' said Sebrina Johnson, who accompanied her son on a tour of the team's facility. ''This could've been taken away. His entrance into the NFL could've been gone. It was a rough week for us.''

Ray said one of the toughest calls he had to make was to his mom to explain the situation.

She offered him some advice he took to heart - address the issue head-on and don't sidestep questions. Own up to it.

''I couldn't ask for a better support system,'' Ray said. ''Of course, I can repay my mother by showing I'll make better decisions and I won't have an issue like that again.''

She wants one other thing, too - a degree. Ray left the University of Missouri two classes short of his degree in agriculture.

''He owes me a degree,'' Johnson said.

Ray finished off his final season with the Tigers in grand fashion, breaking the school's single-season sack record with 14 1-2. For that, he was named the SEC's defensive player of the year.

Although his slip-up is sure to hit him in the wallet, he'll at least start his career on a team with a Super Bowl-worthy roster.

''Things couldn't have worked out better for me,'' Ray said.


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