OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens continued this week’s minicamp by applauding the communication between the organization and the players union regarding violations that forced the team to cancel its final week of offseason practices on Monday.
Coach John Harbaugh informed the media that union reps Todd Heap and Chris Carr came to him with concerns regarding the first OTA week in which six players ran over the allowed time for meetings and two players spent too much time on the practice field. As a result, the organization sent their schedule and tape to league executives who then forced the Ravens to cancel next week’s final OTA practices before training camp.
“I agree with it; 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 at all times. We want our players to communicate with us when they have an issue, and they did. We deserved to lose those last two days. That’s the way it goes, and I think we’ve had a great offseason program anyway, and after this week, it’ll be time to move on to the regular part of it.”
Despite the potential rift that could be created between the players and the organization, all parties took the high road in describing the process and have expressed no inclination of lingering effects on the team moving forward.
Undoubtedly, with the concerns regarding the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement negotiations and how they relate to OTA practices, the union is monitoring every team’s offseason activity closely as the two sides try to reach an agreement before a potential lockout in 2011.
The possibility of a work stoppage continues to weigh on the players’ minds as they prepare for 2010 under an uncapped system.
“It’s the big elephant in the room, and you don’t want to try to avoid it,” receiver Derrick Mason said about the negotiations. “The way it looks, something’s going to happen, and it’s not going to be good.”
Despite Harbaugh’s revelation that Heap and Carr brought concerns to him regarding potential violations, neither rep would disclose whether a player (or players) came to them directly with an issue or had already notified union officials before the player reps talked to Harbaugh.
“That’s an internal matter,” Carr said. “What happened happened, you know, and I think both sides are moving on, coaches and players. Coaches work hard, players work hard. We’re getting along, we’re communicating.”
Harbaugh and players alike heartily downplayed whether there would be any long-term effects or “punishment” once training camp starts, but the issue will clearly be monitored as the team begins training camp in Westminster in late July.
“It’s a situation where there was wrong done–whether it be by accident or not–I think it was a legitimate mistake,” Mason said. “When you have a situation like that, 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.”