Eisenberg: Rookies Have Landed In The Twilight Zone

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Many haven't even seen playbooks.

"Do you feel like an NFL player yet?" Allen was asked.

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They were spectators to the situation, college kids, when the lockout started, but it's their problem now.

"I really feel for those guys," Ravens running back Ray Rice said. "My experience coming into the league obviously was totally different. They're coming into a situation they were totally unprepared for, financially, mentally, everything. We're going to help them out. Being a veteran, anyone who is a rookie, we'll take care of them."

A hop-on-board-with-us attitude was apparent before, during and after Tuesday's workout, which was attended by more than two dozen veterans and rookies including starters Joe Flacco, Mason, Rice, Boldin, Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding.

Flacco arrived in a car with rookies Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, and Tyrod Taylor and explained later that he was staying at their hotel so he could spend time going over the offense with them.

If they stopped for donuts and coffee on the way to the practice, Flacco surely bought.

"The biggest thing about getting out here right now is with these young guys," Flacco said. "The guys who are missing out the most right now are the young guys. They're not going to be able to get in and have a guy go over the playbook with them and come out here on the field and get a real feel for how to run the routes.

"I want them to walk away from this with an understanding of how we call our routes and can they recognize where they line up and which route they're going to have. As long as they have those basics, I think they can grow off of that."

Allen, who is expected to compete for a job backing up Rice, said Rice had called several times and also was planning to go over the playbook this week.

"Ray has been great," Allen said.

The Ravens' approach stands in contrast to the approach taken by Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman, who said he "didn't feel the urgency" to help out his rookie teammates before their players-only workout.  On the other hand, former Ravens quarterback John Beck, now with the Redskins, said he did reach out before their event because he "tried to put myself in their shoes."

Waiting for the lockout to end, waiting to see what the playbook looks like, waiting for a contract, waiting for… everything.

John Eisenberg *covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.*

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