Ravens Notebook

NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL labor crisis could force the Baltimore Ravens to shift training camp from McDaniel College to team headquarters in Owings Mills. The owners have locked out the players after the NFL Players Association decertified and filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court.

Plus, their camp could conflict with the McDaniel class schedule if the lockout persists until late August or early September.

The Ravens' latest contract with the private, liberal arts school has expired, but vice president of operations Bob Eller has been in talks with McDaniel Vice President of Administration and Finance Ethan Seidel. A new contract is expected to be worked out eventually. "We're going to have to make some decisions if the work stoppage continues about summer training camp," team president Dick Cass told the Times. "We don't have to make that decision yet. We're talking to McDaniel College. We're in discussions with them. We'd love to go back to McDaniel. Our fans love it out there and it's a great tradition. Hopefully, we'll be back out there this summer."

The Ravens have conducted training camp in Westminster since their inaugural season in 1996. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the team would shift practices to its training complex, which is closed to fans. However, the team would like to hold more practices at M&T Bank Stadium. "I think we're planning on doing more at the stadium any way," Harbaugh said. "That was so good last year. We'll probably do it two or three times this year even if we're at McDaniel. I think we're going to come down there more. You hit the segment of your fans downtown that can just walk over or catch the bus."

KICKOFF RULE CHANGED: The NFL shifted kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line, a move unpopular with teams that have good kickoff returners.

Initially, the competition committee had recommended a proposal moving touchbacks to the 25-yard line and eliminating the two-man wedge on kickoffs.

The Ravens voted in favor of a revised proposal that took out the touchback change and wedge rule. "We can live with the ball at the 35-yard line, although to me that doesn't help our football team," Harbaugh said. "Without question, I'd rather it all stay the same." The NFL adopted the rules in the interest of player safety.

"It'll eliminate some of the head and neck injuries," Harbaugh said. "It's not specific enough to limit a blocking scheme. To me, it's a reasonable, one-step approach. But it'll be an advantage for the kickoff team, and help the defenses, generally.

"It really hurts the Browns, and the Bears, and the teams with great return guys. Half of it got rejected, so it got amended, so it got changed a lot. They respected everyone's concerns about it." Harbaugh said he thinks the committee might be going too far.

"I think we all agree that we don't want to go overboard and you don't want to do too much," Harbaugh said. "You want to work your way into what you have to do It's such a huge change for the game. We've been kicking off since 1869. "It's kind of cool when the crowd gets all excited and the band is playing. It's kind of anticlimactic. At the same time, it's a conundrum. Everybody recognizes that you have these plays where guys are running full speed down the field and it's like car wrecks all the time. So, how do you deal with that? Harbaugh said he believes kickoffs won't be as challenging to cover now.
BR> "It's going to be easier to cover a kick now," Harbaugh said. "The geometry of the play will change. The kicking team will be more on top of the return scheme, and plus they'll be more touchbacks."

He expects faster players to be recruited for the kickoff team. "You'll see more speed," Harbaugh said. "But that's already happened the last couple years, because the wedge has been eliminated."

LANDRY COULD BE IN DEMAND: Ravens strong safety Dawan Landry could become a fairly hot commodity if he's ruled an unrestricted free agent due to a weak rookie draft class at his position.

"Dawan has earned everything he's gotten," Harbaugh said. "I talked to Dawan in the past. Dawan wants to be a Raven and we want him to be a Raven. The economics is something he'll have to decide on, but the opportunities are going to be there. In this market, how's it going to go?"

AYANBADEJO ON THE MEND:. Three-time Pro Bowl special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo never fully recovered from a torn quadriceps suffered during the 2009 season against the New England Patriots. He underwent surgery and missed the first six game s of last season on the physically unable to perform list.

"I don't think he was ever back to his old form last year, but he got better," Harbaugh said. "With another good offseason, he's kind of back to form. The thing about Brendon is he's really fast. The guy runs a 4.5 still and he takes care of himself. He's going to be a big part of our team, injuries notwithstanding next year."

QUICK HITS: Harbaugh was amused by the false reports that he had attended the Missouri Pro Day workout to scout quarterback Blaine Gabbert and that the Ravens were going to conduct a private workout for the top draft prospect. Harbaugh was confused with his brother, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. "Maybe we're scouting for each other to cover our tracks that way," he said.

The Ravens aren't ruling out bringing back free agent reserve linebacker and special-teams contributor Prescott Burgess, their leading tackler in kick coverage for the past two seasons.

"I can't ever say I don't want a guy back," Harbaugh said. "I want them all back. Yet you want to find a way to make your team better in different ways. I think he's a proven special teams guy. He's a proven backup linebacker and I think on another team he could possibly be a starting linebacker. That's something that Prescott is going to have to decide. He's got a role on our team if we can make it work."

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