Ravens not 'mad at each other' after NFL reprimand

Day after NFL cancels practice, players and coaches say there is no friction between them

June 08, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

There was no visible fallout at Ravens practice Tuesday, one day after the team was reprimanded by the NFL for offseason rules violations.

The Ravens were disciplined after six players complained to the players union about late meetings and two others reported being held too long on the field after practice, according to coach John Harbaugh.

These infractions occurred during the team's first voluntary passing camp in the middle of May, Harbaugh said. On Monday, the league resolved the grievance by forcing the Ravens to cancel next week's practices, which were the last ones of the offseason.

While Harbaugh acknowledged that the situation is "embarrassing" for the organization, the players and the coaches agreed no tension exists between the sides as a result of an in-house dispute that went public.

"Nobody is mad at each other," said cornerback Chris Carr, one of the team's union representatives. "We're still going out there and having fun. I don't think there is any animosity between anybody, coaches or players."

It is unknown which players were the ones who filed a complaint against the Ravens.

Harbaugh said it didn't bother him that some of his players reported the coaching staff to the union.

"I agree with [the penalty]. I'm accountable for that," Harbaugh said. "As an organization, we want to do things the right way. We want to be within the rules all the time. We want our players to communicate with us when they have an issue and they did. We deserve to lose those last few days."

The Ravens players have received some flak from their fan base because it simply seems as if they're complaining for being overworked. The group of players who spoke to the union is being called "The Rat Pack" on The Baltimore Sun's message board.

Wide receiver Derrick Mason takes exception for the team being labeled as "whistleblowers."

"We're trying to protect the locker room … you don't want guys out there any more than what they need to be because the longer you're out there, the more you're susceptible to injury," Mason said. "Whether it is by accident or not, I think it was a legitimate mistake."

Harbaugh, who is known for running high-energy workouts, said the letter from the NFL indicated there were a few plays that were more physical than they should have been. But the specific plays weren't described in the letter, Harbaugh said.

In 15 full-team practices this offseason, there have been only two injuries sustained that have kept players out for more than one week (offensive tackles Jared Gaither and Ramon Harewood).

Some NFL observers have suggested that a group of players voicing their displeasure could be a sign of dissention in the locker room, a notion that was quickly disputed by Carr.

"We're all in this together," he said. "We're a team; you want to care about the coaches and you want the coaches to care about you. We're all trying to get to a common goal."

Carr and tight end Todd Heap, who is also a union representative, were the ones who sat down with Harbaugh after they were informed by the players about the grievance.

"The second we all sat down and talked, everything was corrected," Heap said. "I think it's only been a positive thing as far as everybody's concerned. The communication level has been great."

Harbaugh addressed the team about the rules violations Monday, saying he was accountable for the situation.

"He took responsibility, which is a great example for all of us men around here," said cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who serves on the NFL Players Association's executive committee.

The players didn't notice any change in intensity at Tuesday's workout, which ended precisely at the scheduled time of 12:15 p.m.

"We still work harder than any other team in the league," Foxworth said. "It doesn't feel any different."

The last time a team had to cancel a week of practice due to a rules violation was the Oakland Raiders in 2007.

The Ravens don't believe it hurts their offseason to lose the final week of practices, which were scheduled to be a special teams camp.

"We've gotten so much done through the offseason," Harbaugh said, "I think we've more than accomplished what we hope to already."

The Ravens will finish their offseason Thursday and won't reconvene until training camp in late July.

Mason said he doesn't think Harbaugh will retaliate by making training camp tougher.

"You try to think positively," said Mason, drawing laughter from reporters. "You try to think that coach Harbaugh won't see it that way — wink, wink."

Mason added, "It's a situation where there was wrong done. You don't try to punish the team because there was an infraction laid down on you. So, what you do is you learn from it, and you kind of r-eevaluate your schedule and see where you're going over as far as time-wise, and you try to cut it back. You move on from it and you just hope that it doesn't happen again."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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