Harbaugh: Cancelled Practices 'Embarrassing'

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Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh was not surprised when the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to take away Baltimore's final two organized team activities.

If anything, he said the cancelled practices are "embarrassing."

"I don't want the Ravens' name out there for losing two OTA practices," said Coach Harbaugh after Tuesday's practice.

But, Harbaugh thinks his team will still be in good shape even without the two special teams camps.

"We got so much done during the offseason, our guys have worked so hard, just like today, that we've more than accomplished what we wanted to do this offseason," he continued.

Players' union representatives Todd Heap, Chris Carr and Derrick Mason approached Harbaugh following the first OTA in mid-May, voicing concerns about the amount of time several Ravens were spending either on the field or in the meeting rooms.

As it turned out, six Ravens were found to be in meetings too long, while two practiced over the time limit as outlined by the current collective bargaining agreement.

The team then spoke with league officials, who resolved the issue with the NFLPA in the form of cancelled practices.

"We had great communication from our player reps," Coach Harbaugh said.  "They felt that it was an issue, and we stopped it immediately.  The league came back and told us about it, and we sent everything to the league immediately – all of our tapes, all of our schedules, everything we were doing.

"They took away our last two OTA practices, which I agree with.  I'm accountable for that.  As an organization, we want to do things the right way.  We want to be within the rules at all times.  We want our players to communicate with us when we they have an issue.  We deserved to lose our last two days."

According to Domonique Foxworth, who was elected to the NFLPA executive committee in 2008, the communication between player and coach will only help the Ravens moving forward, regardless of how many OTAs are left.

"That's the hallmark of a good team, communication," said Foxworth.  "Coach has said several times that the door is always open, and I think by what's happened recently, we've seen that it's true.  I think that builds confidence in the team and the relationship with the head coach."

There are also CBA-stated limits to the intensity of the voluntary sessions, but Mason doesn't believe that was a problem.

The schedule simply ran too long for a few players.

"I think there is a misconception about the whole thing," Mason explained.  "I don't think it's necessarily tempo.  You can't stop guys from going a certain speed.  You can't say, 'Guys, back off.'  The coaches might say it, or players might say it, but the natural instinct is to go.  If you're not going hard, you open yourself up to injuries."

Harbaugh is known for running tight, high-energy practices, and he has consistently praised his team for maintaining that focus throughout the offseason.

The Ravens' only major injuries reported to come out of the OTAs were a knee injury to rookie offensive tackle Ramon Harewood and a toe/foot injury for tackle Jared Gaither.

"We've got a bunch of guys who really like to practice," said Harbaugh.  "We have a proud defense and a lot of weapons on offense, and they're out there competing.  We try to do everything we can to make sure we take care of each other.

"I'm sure there were instances where it got a little more competitive than it should have, but I think our players, all in all, do a good job of taking care of each other."

While the veterans will break this Thursday until training camp begins on July 27, the rookies are able to work out at team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., next week.

As for the time missed, Foxworth is confident the Ravens will make it up later.

"[Coach Harbaugh is] going to get plenty of work out of us in camp," he said. "I'm sure whatever we miss this week, we'll fit it in July."

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