Return to work short-lived for Ravens players

A handful of Baltimore Ravens players took advantage of the injunction temporarily halting the NFL lockout, returning to work at team headquarters Friday morning. It's unclear when they'll have another opportunity to do so.

Prior to the ruling, veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason, cornerback Domonique Foxworth, defensive ends Cory Redding and Paul Kruger and offensive tackles Ramon Harewood and Oniel Cousins were at the Ravens' training complex Friday. The Ravens were hoping to officially start the offseason conditioning program Monday.

"I hope it is over for good," Mason said before the news of the stay. "It's not weird being back. Honestly, if you look at it we didn't miss that much time. Guys would be trickling in mid-March to work. We haven't missed much. If things stay status quo, we can stay on schedule." Following the ruling, general manager Ozzie Newsome said the Ravens have to simply wait for the league for guidance on what to do.

"We will operate as the league allows us to operate," Newsome said. "That's the way we have to go about doing our business. When the league allows things to happen, we will let them happen. When the league doesn't allow things to happen, we'll follow the procedures of the league to the letter of the law."

A member of the NFL Players Association executive committee and a close ally of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, Foxworth politely declined an interview request. Redding was the first to arrive, showing up shortly after 8 a.m.

"Did I make a wrong turn going down the street?" Redding joked. "It was a good reunion to see some of the guys in there. I went in and did a little cardio work just to keep the body in shape until Monday when everything gets started. That's the official start of the offseason program.

"Right now, it's the status quo for me. I continue to do what I can do and keep myself ready for football. I have no say-so. I leave that up to the powers that be." Redding said he weighs roughly 300 pounds, the same weight he finished last season. "I've been doing whatever I can to continue to break a sweat," Redding said. "I did enough to stay in shape, and that's important. I want to play football. In order to do that, I need to keep up my end of the bargain, and that's to stay in shape."

Harewood missed his entire rookie season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and a more serious procedure on his right knee. "I was a little anxious when my coach called me," Harewood said. "I'm happy to get this ball rolling again."

Harewood lifted weights and has resumed running. He's not ready for full-speed work yet and might not be until training camp. "I can move," Harewood said. "I have all my range back, but it's still healing. I don't want to put any pressure on it that I don't need to. I can do drills and run around and stuff, but no contact." Mason has been sharply critical of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, calling him a joke in recent weeks. So, he laughed when asked about Goodell being booed by fans during the NFL draft Thursday night.

"When you are a part of a work stoppage and the fans feel you were one of the main culprits in it and you haven't tried to work it out, you're going to get booed," Mason said. "Probably some of the players would have got booed, too. You're the commissioner, and you take on those responsibilities. When you walk up to that podium, you're going to get booed. He got booed.

"I'm pretty sure he smiled and laughed. I don't know if it affected him or not. He acted like it didn't. I think people are starting to see what I saw. Hopefully, we can continue to be able to come into the building, continue to work out and football will be played because I think we've given the fans a lot of hope that come August, September we will be playing."

Although he's under contract, Mason is optimistic that free agency will begin soon. The NFL hasn't announced yet when the league year will begin. Now, that could take a while longer.

"It's tricky," Mason said. "No one really knows what's going on as far as free agency and the league year and all that. That's for the people with the PHDs and all these other degrees. Hppefully, free agency will start pretty soon. They're a bunch of guys that are chomping at the bit or holding their breath right now." Like most players, Mason said it's been hard to keep up with the latest developments in the court system regarding the labor battle.

"It changes like the wind," he said. "One day you hear one thing and one day you hear another. You try not to pay attention to it until something very significant happens like it did the other day. That's when a lot of players really tuned in. You want to make sure you know what's going on."

"I'm sure guys will be trickling in here next week," Mason said. "We'll hit the ground running. There's no walking. We're trying to get this thing going quickly. You want to make sure you stay in condition because this is your job. You're your own business. You have to take care of yourself."

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