Late For Work 5/21: Suspension Still Possible For Ray Rice?

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Suspension Still Possible For Rice?

Ray Rice will not stand trial for an offseason incident involving his then-fiancée and now wife Janay Palmer at an Atlantic City casino. 

Prosecutors approved Rice for a pre-trial intervention program designed for first time offenders, which would allow him to clear his record of charges of the alleged assault.

Now the question is whether he will face punishment from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

The league has monitored the situation since it occurred in February, and Goodell said at the owners meetings in March that "we'll let the facts dictate" any potential suspension. 

While Rice could ultimately end up having the charge removed from his record, history shows that the NFL has punished players regardless of whether they have been convicted or only charged with a crime. 

"Goodell has discretionary power to discipline players regardless of how legal situations are adjudicated and has shown that in the past," wrote Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for six games in 2010 following an alleged sexual assault, even though he was never charged with a crime. That suspension was eventually reduced to four games. 

The league has given no indication on the length of a suspension Rice may receive, but Jeff Zrebiec of The Sun expects it to be less than Roethlisberger. 

"My guess is it will be no more than [three games]," Zrebiec tweeted. "I'm taking into account that Rice is 1st-time offender and has been one of the faces of the NFL."

One of the considerations with Rice's situation is the video that was leaked to TMZ, which shows Rice pulling his fiancée out of the elevator while she was seemingly unconscious. The video does not show what occurred in the elevator prior to that, and it's unclear if the league has access to the full recording. 

"He has no other prior incidents and, all things being equal, he probably would be looking at a fine from the NFL under normal circumstances. The video makes it a little more complicated," attorney and former NFL counsel David Cornwell told The Sun. 

"That's what could get it out of the fine range and into a suspension because the league will respond to the unique aspect of the video and the fact that there's a female involved. Those are complicating factors. The NFL has ignored plea bargains and things of that nature in the past."

The league will also consider the fact that Rice and Palmer have been attending counseling since the incident, and were married in late March. 

Rice has not spoken publicly about the incident and no timetable has been released for when a decision could come down from the NFL.  

Playoffs Not Expanding In 2014; Harbaugh Wants It To Happen

The league decided not to have the owners vote on expanding the playoffs during the spring meetings this week in Atlanta. Under consideration is increasing the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14. 

The plan is for the owners to revisit the issue when they meet again in the fall.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed interest in adding teams to the playoffs, and Ravens leadership is in support of the move. Owner Steve Bisciotti voiced his support for the idea after the season, and Head Coach John Harbaugh advocated for expansion during a radio interview with ESPN Boise this week. 

"When they asked me, I was for it," Harbaugh said. "It does create a huge race at the end, which is probably good for the few teams that seemingly don't have much to play for. It seems like every team will probably have something to play for at the end, which I'm sure the NFL wants. It's good for the fans. 

"This league is so close. The line is so fine between winning and losing, and making the playoffs. Really between 6-10 and 10-6, it's a very fine line. I think it's a great thing and it's only going to be good for everything. I think it would be good for the sport." 

The owners will meet again in early October, and for playoff expansion to become official it would require a vote of approval from 24 of the 32 owners

Is Kubiak's Offense Really More Tight End Friendly?

Since the Ravens hired Gary Kubiak as the offensive coordinator this offseason, there has been plenty of talk about the wonders he'll work for the team's tight ends. 

Kubiak has worked with Pro Bowlers like Owen Daniels (who is now in Baltimore) and Shannon Sharpe during his career, and the tight end has been a featured piece of the offense. 

But Russell Street Report's Kyle Casey wanted to look into the issue a little deeper. To do so, he looked into a variety of statistics from Kubiak's final year in Houston. The research included the total targets and receiving yards of the tight ends, as well as the percentage of targets and receiving yards the tight ends had for the entire offense. 

In all of the categories, the Texans were in the top third of the league. 

"While the statistics above may only be honing in on the 2013 season, they proved what we already knew: Kubiak's Houston offense favored the tight end position," Casey wrote. "It won't be an accident if Baltimore's pass attack is geared more toward the tight end position next season."

Quick Hits

  • Baltimore's Michael Phelps is back in the pool these days, and he just competed at a race in Charlotte over the weekend. Phelps is a die-hard Ravens fan and he was asked about the team's draft after finishing a race. "I always know that Ozzie Newsome is very smart and he's always wise on his selections on what he sees in the draft. So I have all faith in the organization that we'll have a better year than last year."  [Universal Sports]
  • First-round pick C.J. Mosley is proving to be a quick study. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @RavensCommunity: Students from Margaret Brent Elementary pose with their brand new tablets donated by @TheRealJacoby12's foundation! [Twitter]
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  • A number of Ravens hit the links yesterday for a charity golf outing with local Baltimore restaurant Jimmy's Seafood. The group included Torrey Smith, Steve Smith Sr., Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and Chykie Brown. Smith posted a number of pictures from the outing, and the group's attire certainly made them easy to spot on the golf course. [Instagram]
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