Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pleaded not guilty Thursday to assault charges stemming from an incident with his then-girlfriend in an Atlantic City casino elevator. His lawyer said Rice is ‘‘ashamed’’ and ‘‘sorry’’ about his conduct but would not specify exactly what Rice did.
After the five-minute court hearing in Mays Landing, N.J., Rice applied for New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, which allows for charges to be dismissed against first-time offenders who participate in the program and meet certain conditions. The county prosecutor will decide whether Rice is allowed to enter the program.
If not, prosecutors have offered Rice a plea bargain that would spare him jail time if he participates in anger management counseling.
‘‘He’s ashamed of his conduct and he’s sorry for what he did,’’ attorney Michael Diamondstein told reporters outside the courthouse.
‘‘There was a disagreement between him and his wife,’’ Diamondstein said. ‘‘He made a mistake. He loves Janay and wants to move forward. This was a momentary lapse of reason.’’
Security video obtained by TMZ Sports shows Rice removing the motionless body of Janay Palmer from an elevator at Revel Hotel Casino Feb. 15.
The couple married a day after Rice was indicted.
If convicted, Rice could face three to five years in prison.
The former Rutgers star walked to the courthouse holding hands with Palmer. He said he is a ‘‘happy father and a happy husband.’’ When asked by reporters what he hoped would happen, Rice responded, ‘‘for you all to have a blessed day.’’
Originally, Palmer and Rice were charged with simple assault, but the Atlantic County prosecutor’s office dropped the charge against Palmer. A grand jury lodged the more serious charge of aggravated assault against Rice.
Diamondstein said he expects a decision on whether Rice will be allowed into pretrial intervention within the next few weeks. The conditions of pretrial intervention would include staying out of trouble for a year, as well as undergoing counseling and remaining gainfully employed, the attorney said.
Browns get QB Young
Once one of the NFL’s rising stars before personal problems sidetracked the quarterback’s career, Vince Young signed a one-year contract with the Cleveland Browns.
Although rusty, Young, who hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2011, showed enough during a three-day tryout to get the deal.
It’s been a long climb back for Young, who won’t celebrate with so much work to be done.
‘‘There’s no popping the champagne bottle,’’ he said.
The 30-year-old comes with an impressive resume after going 31-19 as an NFL starter and making two Pro Bowls.
He was signed along with free agent quarterback Tyler Thigpen and linebacker Zac Diles shortly after the Browns completed their first minicamp under new coach Mike Pettine.
This is another fresh start for Young, who spent part of the past two preseasons with Buffalo and Green Bay but hasn’t appeared in a game since Dec. 18, 2011, for Philadelphia.
Young has endured financial problems, dealt with emotional issues, and tried to balance his personal life while keeping his professional one afloat.
‘‘Right now I have my head down, just wanting to work and show the team, the organization what type of guy I am,’’ Young said.
Thigpen was out of the league last year after playing six seasons with Kansas City, Miami, and Buffalo. He’s 1-11 as a starter with 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
The Browns, long hungry for a franchise quarterback, own the No. 4 pick in next week's draft, and the team has been closely linked to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Broncos keep Miller
The Broncos exercised their fifth-year option on linebacker Von Miller, league sources confirmed to CBSSports.com. The Broncos had until Saturday to pick up the option on the second pick in the 2011 draft. Miller, who sat out six games after violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, expects to be back for the season opener after tearing his ACL at the end of the season . . . Add New York City developer Howard Milstein to the list of candidates interested in purchasing the Bills, two people familiar with discussions confirmed. The Bills, last valued at $870 million, will be put on the market following the death of owner Ralph Wilson in March . . . Quarterback Eli Manning will miss all of the Giants’ spring activities while recovering from left ankle surgery.