Ravens penalized by NFL

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens have forfeited their final week of organized team activity practices, a consequence triggered by violations of collective bargaining agreement rules governing the intensity of drills and the amount of time that players spend at team headquarters.

The NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association released a joint statement Monday stating that the Ravens broke the rules. As a result, the Ravens were forced to cancel next week's final round of organized team activities.

Several players' agents told the Times that the complaints filed with the players' union stemmed from blocking drills involving offensive and defensive linemen that were judged to have crossed the line since contact is prohibited during offseason practice sessions. The players' union and league officials conducted interviews and examined videotapes of practice during their investigation.

"The NFL informed us of the situation, and the action they've taken is appropriate," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "We'll complete our organized team activity days this week and then turn our focus to the start of training camp. We made a mistake, and it won't happen again."

It's somewhat unusual for players to file complaints about offseason workouts. However, with labor strife surrounding the league, almost anything can become a point of contention nowadays.

There were only two injuries of note that were suffered during the Ravens' offseason practices: rookie offensive tackle Ramon Harewood's soft-tissue damage in his knee and veteran offensive tackle Jared Gaither missing the past month with bruising on the bottom of his foot.

The players aren't allowed to be at the facility next week, but will be paid for the practice sessions. According to the ruling, the days can't be rescheduled by the team.

The league and the union released the following statement:

"The NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association have resolved a complaint by the Players Association against the Baltimore Ravens concerning violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement's offseason workout rules.

"It was determined that the Ravens violated the rules concerning the intensity and tempo of drills conducted on the club's organized team activity days and the length of time spent by players at the club's facility on such days."

The players' union has been skirmishing with league officials for several years about closer supervision and enforcement of offseason rules, and it has become a much bigger point of emphasis under the direction of new union chief DeMaurice Smith.

Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth is a close ally of Smith's as an executive committee member. Wide receiver Derrick Mason is the Ravens' listed player representative, and the alternates are tight end Todd Heap and cornerback Chris Carr. Next week's workouts (June 15 and June 16) were scheduled to be concentrated on special teams workouts.

Because those workouts were cancelled, the Ravens have opened up Thursday's workout to reporters. Today's practice is also open to the media. "When you make a mistake, you step up," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We're accountable. As Ozzie said, it won't happen again."


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