When the Ravens begin their voluntary offseason program, they expect to have strong attendance across the board.
Quarterback Joe Flacco, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and running back Ray Rice are all planning to participate in the offseason workouts, Head Coach John Harbaugh said during an interview at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The strength and conditioning program begins mid-April and then Organized Team Actives (OTAs) start after that. Having key offensive veterans in town for OTAs – especially Flacco – will be critical as the Ravens implement a new system under coordinator Gary Kubiak.
"He'll get the playbook as soon as we get it finished, which is very soon after we get back [from the combine]," Harbaugh said. "Joe can take it and run with it and prepare for the OTAs. Joe's committed to being at the OTAs."
The offseason program is voluntary for the players, outside of a required a one-week minicamp each year in June. Young players and those on the roster bubble typically attend all of the workouts, but attendance varies for key veterans already under long-term deals.
The offseason program includes basic strength and conditioning workouts, implementation of the playbook and the integration of new players. The Collective Bargaining Agreement limits coach involvement and on-field work that players can get during the offseason. Coaches are not able to participate during on-field workouts during the strength and conditioning phase of the offseason program, but they can get involved during OTAs and minicamp. The small window they have to work with players makes the time OTAs and minicamp critical.
"We do a great job with our training program," Harbaugh said. "If you watch us play, you can't deny that we're a highly conditioned team. We're a big, strong team."
A key part of the offseason program is to make sure players are in shape when they report for training camp in July.
Harbaugh said that Rice is planning to attend during the offseason,*and will look to shed some weight compared to last season. Rice is also dealing with off-the-field *issues stemming from his arrest on a domestic violence simple assault charge earlier in the month.
Rice added some weight last season and dealt with a hip injury, making him less explosive than earlier in his career.
"It was too big. His high weight was 217 last year. Ray is pretty consistent. It's not like Ray fluctuated. Ray didn't get fat. Ray just got big and thick," Harbaugh said. "You just look at history, and Ray was 207 his rookie year. What the weight ends up being, we'll see, but it's lighter. A lot lighter. To me it's under 210 for sure."