How the Ravens Are Handling the Uncertainty of COVID-19


The coronavirus pandemic is uncharted territory for everyone, but Ravens players are finding different ways to cope during the offseason.

Working out has become far more challenging for players who rely on staying in peak condition. Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews says he has returned to some of the basics he learned as a young athlete. At-home workouts are back in style. Sophisticated workout routines, group sessions with teammates and getting hands-on guidance from individual trainers will have to wait.

"The biggest thing right now for everybody is finding a space to work out and not being around a trainer and a bunch of other people who are working out. Just realizing that you've got to do it on your own," Andrews said, speaking on a video conference call with reporters. "I've got basically a prison workout in my backyard with a bench and weights. I go to the field and run. It takes a little bit different type of working out than we're all used to."

Ravens safety Chuck Clark is juggling fatherhood with fitness. He and his wife, Aysha, became first-time parents in October when their daughter, Charlee', was born, so Clark has plenty to occupy him other than football. However, Clark is one of the Ravens' most disciplined players who loves film study and preparation. He's finding a way to balance family and football, working out in his garage and enjoying being a stay-at-home dad.

"I'm doing my home workouts, got my little baby girl to keep me active. There's nothing boring about that," Clark said.

"It's up to you to train and get your work in. We're professional athletes. Your opponent is [in] the same situation."

At the same time, Clark admitted that it has crossed his mind that the 2020 season could be in jeopardy. Both players said nobody knows what's going to happen, and how it will impact their preparation, but all they can do is try their best while staying safe.

Baltimore has been one of the most active teams in free agency, and General Manager Eric DeCosta has been working frantically as usual. Because of the COVID-19 epidemic and restricted travel, teams have had more difficulty completing medical examinations by players. For that reason, finalizing deals during this offseason has become even more challenging.

The Ravens' pivoted quickly last week when they did not sign free Michael Brockers after it was reported that the free-agent defensive end would be joining the Ravens. The Ravens couldn't bring Brockers to Baltimore for a physical with their doctors, and Brockers eventually re-signed with the Rams. A few days later, the Ravens signed free agent defensive end Derek Wolfe.

As Ravens prepare for the draft, DeCosta said the team is making adjustments to ensure everyone is as prepared as possible.

"This is a process for us that we're still working through." DeCosta said. "Communication is the biggest thing. How do we adapt? How do we stay flexible? How do you we gain an advantage compared to other teams, which is something I'm always thinking about?

"This is a challenging time. We can't do the things we're accustomed to doing. I'll probably have to be a little bit more hands-on with the draft this year than I was last year. We may not have as much information. We're not going to have workout information for a lot of players. There may not be medical re-checks. But we'll have plan. We have a great group of people."

Unable to meet face-to-face with draft prospects during this time, teams are using FaceTime to communicate with future draft hopefuls.

Flexibility has become important for the entire organization. The Ravens have moved their final season ticket payment deadline from May 15 to June 15, and the timeline for OTAs, training camp, and the start of the season remain uncertain.

"We have to plan for things we normally wouldn't plan for," Ravens President Dick Cass said on "The Lounge" podcast. "Business operations are unusual and challenging in many different ways. We're trying to keep business as normal as best we can."

New Ravens defensive tackle Calais Campbell wants to see his new locker room, learn the Ravens' playbook and find a place to live. He doesn't know when that will happen, but like everyone else, he is learning how to cope. Campbell figured he had seen just about everything he could see as an NFL player. He was wrong.

"This is unique," Campbell said during a conference call. "I haven't experienced anything like this during my 12-year career."

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