When the players returned to the Under Armour Performance Center this week for the start of the voluntary offseason training program, the strength and conditioning staff wasted no time putting them back to work.
The weight room was already packed early Monday morning, and it will be a busy place for the next several weeks.
"Our main objective is to get these guys in shape as quick as we can and be safe as we're doing that," Strength and Conditioning Coach Bob Rogucki said Tuesday. "Our work habit here, as you can see when a lot of guys come in from different programs, we do a little bit more than a lot of teams do. We expect a lot out of them."
The Ravens try to get as much work within the constraints of the offseason schedule, and Rogucki provided some details about the Ravens' training regimen.
They hold workouts four days a week, training upper bodies on Mondays and Wednesdays, and lower bodies Tuesday and Thursday. Friday will be a makeup day for players who miss time during the week.
"One Monday we start with the bench press, and the following Monday we start with the incline [press]," Rogucki said. "[It's the] same thing with the legs; the first leg day is squats, and the second leg day would be trap bar deadlift. From that, we mix in different exercises.
"We look at the neck as the most important area for us in training on our upper-body day. That's the first thing we do. We take care of the neck, the trap area."
The Ravens added an element to the weight room this year by hiring cross-training specialist Billy DeLorbe. He was hired after spending the last 10 years as a training expert at the Maryland Athletic Club, where he led specialized training for players and focused on increasing flexibility and mobility.
"He is basically covering areas if a guy needs special work, rehab, or if he wants to do some additional abdominal work, flexibility, foam roll, whatever it may be," Rogucki said. "We are incorporating him in the middle of the workout and at the end of the workout. He is a good addition to the program."
While the strength work is critical during the offseason, another key piece of the equation is cardio fitness. Players will spend time in the field house working on sprints and longer runs, which is important to get them prepared for when the team is able to hold practices.
The running schedule starts with having the players complete six 300-yard runs, which gives the training staff an indication of whether the players have been staying in shape since the season ended.
"It's a challenging run, it's a safe run," Rogucki said. "It tells us that if they're running five and six, and if they end up having to walk, then they haven't done anything. It's just a guide for us to monitor how we approach them. If a guy can't run six 300's, then that means we've got to back something off, because if we don't, then we're going to tweak something and it's going to set us back."
Like most of what the Ravens do in practice, the competition between players is critical. Players regularly push and challenge each other in the weight room, and that's the kind of environment Rogucki wants to create.
"What we try to do is we make this as competitive as we can," he said. "There are some guidelines to that. If we know this guy wants to attempt 500 pounds, and he can't do 450, then we don't allow that to happen. We monitor that by each position coming in, and we're competitive in the drills that we run."
To maximize the competition, players are grouped by position. Organizing players by position groups matches up teammates that will battle for playing time, which immediately fosters an attitude of rivalry.
"It doesn't matter how many years of football they play. It's ingrained in them," Rogucki said. "But when they're away from it, you have to start bringing it back out."
Steve Smith, Owen Daniels and Justin Forsett join their new teammates in the Ravens weight room.