Ravens hit the field today at Towson Universi

OWINGS MILLS - As several Baltimore Ravens hit the field today at Towson University for a series of informal workouts, there's a key watchword on their mind: safety. Because of the ongoing NFL lockout, players aren't protected contractually should they suffer an injury.

Although players have insurance and there will be certified trainers and medical staff on the field this morning at Johnny Unitas Stadium, the primary emphasis is on conditioning work rather than the competitive drills that are typically conducted at an organized team activity or minicamp.

"We're going to work hard with conditioning and stuff, but we're going to do it in a smart way," wide receiver Derrick Mason told the Carroll County Times on Monday night in a telephone interview. "We're just strictly going to do conditioning and throw the football. What we're going to do the next three days is get in some good conditioning and have a good time.

"It's just like working out on your own. Trust me, I'm not going to put guys in a position where they will get hurt. I don't want to get myself hurt. You've got to be smart and trust your body, no one-on-one stuff. We'll do hard work, but smart work."

Mason and others, including quarterback Joe Flacco, middle linebacker Ray Lewis running back Ray Rice and linebacker Jarret Johnson, have been contacting teammates to attend. Mason is anticipating somewhere between 20 to 25 players at the workouts, which are closed to the general public and open to the media today. Lewis and rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith aren't scheduled to attend.

"I know a few guys have other obligations," Mason said. "I'm very sympathetic to guys who can't come. A few guys like Ray Lewis have prior engagements and aren't able to come. I understand that, I totally get that. It's about the guys that are there."

Among the players expected to attend: Mason, Flacco, Rice, Johnson, quarterback Hunter Cantwell, safety Haruki Nakamura, wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss and Justin Harper, running back Anthony Allen, linebacker Jameel McClain, quarterback Tyrod Taylor and defensive tackles Brandon McKinney and Lamar Divens. The sessions will include movement drills, resistance speed drills, core workouts, positional drills and weightlifting "I don't think too many other universities are giving you space during commencement to park your cars, use your fields, locker room and weight room," Mason said. "Towson has been more than accommodating to let us use their facility. We're indebted to them for life. We really appreciate it."

While Mason is upbeat about the workouts, he's not encouraged about the prospects for resolving the labor dispute anytime soon. He's concerned that the regular season won't begin on time.

"I'm still hoping it gets worked out, but, more and more, things are getting worse," Mason said. "It seems less and less likely that things are going to start on time. I'm trying to be optimistic, but the worse it gets."

The litigation continues as the NFL and the players prepare for a June 3 hearing regarding the injunction temporarily lifting the lockout. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals seem likely to ultimately rule in favor of the owners to keep the lockout in place after recently ruling against the players.

"You win one and then there's an appeal, and then you appeal again," Mason said. "That's why I don't expect anything to get done until July. When one side or another wins in court, then the other side just appeals it. It's a long legal process.


Ravens Insider Top Stories