Dispute costs Ravens practice time

Next week's minicamp canceled as penalty for intense workouts

June 07, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

John Harbaugh's high-intensity offseason practices crossed the line for the NFL Players Association.

The Ravens were forced to cancel next week's offseason camp -- their last one before training camp -- after violating the collective bargaining agreement's offseason workout rules.

The penalty was the resolution after the players union lodged a complaint against the Ravens.

It was determined that the Ravens had broken the rules concerning the intensity and tempo of drills conducted at their offseason camps as well as the length of time spent by players at the team's facility, according to a joint statement Monday from the NFL and the players union.

"The NFL informed us of the situation, and the action they've taken is appropriate," general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement issued by the team. "We made a mistake, and it won't happen again. We'll complete our organized team activity days this week and then turn our focus to the start of training camp."

It's unknown how the violation was detected. In many situations, it takes one or two players to complain before the union initiates any action.

The Ravens originally were scheduled to participate in a special teams camp June 15-16. Now, Ravens players aren't permitted to be at the facility on those days, but they will be paid for the sessions. The team can't reschedule the canceled days.

Ravens training camp, which is the first time players will suit up in pads and engage in full-contact drills, is scheduled to start the last week of July.

"When you make a mistake, you step up. We're accountable," Harbaugh said in a statement. "As Ozzie said, it won't happen again."

Ravens players weren't available for comment, because Monday's practice was closed to the media. Reporters have been allowed to watch just one practice each week this offseason.

This isn't the first time an NFL team has been penalized for such an infraction. Three years ago, the Oakland Raiders had to forfeit a week of offseason practices because they were too physical under then-rookie coach Lane Kiffin.

The only major injury that has occurred in offseason camps under Harbaugh came in his first minicamp. In April 2008, tight end Quinn Sypniewski suffered a season-ending knee injury after he lightly collided with linebacker Antwan Barnes.

Former coach Brian Billick was often criticized for running "soft" practices. Harbaugh is receiving flak for going in the opposite extreme.

Harbaugh has often applauded his team for the way it practices. Before the first minicamp this offseason, he told the team's website that practices will "be as physical and fast-paced as we can make it."

Note: Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither returned to practice Monday, but because reporters were barred it's unknown how much he participated. Gaither had been sidelined with a foot injury since May 7.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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