Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell has asthma, which could create additional complications for him if he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Campbell discussed that with his wife during the offseason when they were weighing whether he should play in 2020. However, the deadline for players to opt out was Thursday, and Campbell is excited to be in training camp with his new team.
"I put a lot of thought into it on my own, just because of my own underlining issues," Campbell said. "I'm pretty confident in my ability to follow the rules. When we're in meetings, the mask is on. You really can't get into the building being positive. The tests come back pretty quickly."
Campbell has been one of the NFL's most durable players during his 12 seasons. He has missed just six games in his career, and he has not missed a start since 2014. Obviously, asthma has not prevented the five-time Pro Bowler from becoming an elite player.
The health precautions being taken at the Under Armour Performance Center make Campbell – who is on the NFLPA Executive Committee that negotiated with the NFL about protocol – feel even better about his ability to avoid the virus.
"I feel like the chances are a lot lower," Campbell said. "They're still there. As long as I'm washing my hands regularly, not touching my face and wearing my mask I should be OK.
"I think it's more moderate (asthma) than it is severe. I've been able to play football at a high level and haven't had any real issues. I feel like I should be fine."
Campbell Sees Career Year in Sacks Within Reach
Campbell had a career-high 14 ½ sacks in 2018, and he has never played in front of a secondary as talented as Baltimore's. If things go Campbell's way, he sees no reason why his sack total won't be impressive.
"The coaches told me they want (me) to have my best year of my career," Campbell said. "I guess I got to strive for at least 15 (sacks) You got to shut down the run, make teams one-dimensional. Then you get to rush the passer."
Campbell has earned a reputation for being one of the league's best run-stoppers, and he believes playing on a line with Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe gives the Ravens an excellent foundation to having the league's best run defense. The plan is to force opponents into obvious passing situations, then get after the quarterback.
It won't be easy to find open receivers against the Ravens, who have three Pro Bowlers in the secondary – corners Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters and safety Earl Thomas III – along with proven talents in safety Chuck Clark and corners Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith.
"When you have a secondary like we have, you see a lot more stats," said Campbell, who has 88 career sacks. "I've always appreciated playing the game the right way. I've never cared about the stats. They come, they come, they don't, they don't. You beat the guy in front of you over and over again.
"But when have a secondary like this, the stats usually come with it. I'm excited to see what happens this year. They're incredible. Watching the tape, studying last year, even just seeing the way they prepare in practice, let me make sure my game's on point. You get an extra split second to rush the passer."
James Proche Has Inside Track to Return Punts
When De'Anthony Thomas opted out of playing this season, it left rookie wide receiver James Proche as the most likely candidate to return punts for the Ravens. Proche returned punts at SMU and was sure-handed as both a returner and a receiver.
However, because there are no preseason games this year, Proche will not see any live game action as a returner until Week 1 if he wins the job. Head Coach John Harbaugh looks forward to seeing Proche prove that he's ready.
"It's James' role to win, and he has to go win it," Harbaugh said. "We have Willie Snead [IV], I know Willie would like to do it, too. He's back there all the time. Marquise [Brown] catches punts every day. We'll see as we go, but I really like James. He's a really dedicated, motivated guy.
"It's tough for a rookie to do it – a rookie doing it without preseason games. I think about that too, and that will be a challenge. I believe he's up for the challenge; he's the man for the job. But, he's going to have to show us that he's ready. I'm pretty sure that there will be some competition run at him as well, so we'll see where that goes in the next few weeks."
Matt Skura Remains on Timetable for Return to Camp
Matt Skura has made an impressive recovery from a serious knee injury that ended his 2019 season in November. He was playing well as the starting center before his injury, and Harbaugh expects Skura to be taken off the active training camp PUP list soon.
"He is on his timetable," Harbaugh said. "We were going to put him on that (Active/PUP). That was our plan and work him in as we go. We want to make sure that he's moving the right way. Then, you want to put him against some pressure, where the knee has to react to certain movements with pressure. We want to do all that before we put him on the field. This is a really slow ramp-up period anyway, this year. But, he's still right on schedule and we expect to see him out there soon. I don't know what the exact timeframe is – as soon as the trainers clear him, but it won't be too long."
Skura had not yet arrived at camp because he and his wife were expecting the birth of their son, Henry.