Offseason Program Begins


While it remains quiet on the outside of Ravens headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., things are buzzing inside the facility as the first wave of players returned to begin the offseason conditioning program.

Just like new head coach John Harbaugh predicted two months ago when he took office, the initial turnout was impressive. Although the program is 100 percent voluntary, a majority of the roster was on hand.

"We had a good first day," said strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki. "We are excited about our numbers, and those players here worked."

With many of the players returning to the facility for the first time since Harbaugh took control Jan. 18, it was like they were seeing an entirely different weight room.

In giant purple letters, two versions of the word "TEAM" stretch across an entire side wall in the Ravens' weight room.

A bright white font makes the words "finish," "relentless" and "compete" stand out on the looming facades that hang above a solid mirror spanning from entrance to exit.

And, separating the large "TEAM" posters is a glowing red set of eyes ominously watching each player as he pumps iron.

The new décor was just one of the changes enacted under Harbaugh, who notably re-arranged the locker room to promote more camaraderie among the different position groups.

Led by Rogucki and assistant John "Mother" Dunn, the program features a mix of running and weightlifting to build a foundation players can take into Baltimore's opening mini camp April 17-19.

The Ravens do an upper body lift on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the lower body coming Tuesdays and Thursdays. Endurance running is shuffled with drill-specific conditioning, such as plyometrics.

"We're just looking to find out where they are and what they've been doing prior to getting back here, both with their cardiovascular and strength training," said Rogucki, who previously served as the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2006-07 and has been in the NFL for 19 years. "We take it as a team approach at this point, and then we can get a sense of where they are individually."

Rogucki and Dunn have implemented different weightlifting techniques that are foreign to many of the Ravens, such as the curiously-shaped kettlebells that now sit in racks aligned down the middle of the room.

"I've never worked with kettlebells before," said defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. "It's a new thing that is going to keep it interesting in the weight room."

"I think they're good," wideout Demetrius Williams agreed. "They kind of change up what we were doing so far this offseason."

Dunn thinks the revamped workouts will yield results once footballs start flying.

"They're really working hard to get better," said Dunn, who has 23 years of professional experience under his belt. "It's about functional lifting. The kettlebells are a great way to incorporate hip and leg explosion without as much stress on the spine, in my opinion.

"We brought in heavy weighted balls players can use in different ways to generate force from different angles. We're trying to create a program that is better applicable to the field."

Some players have compared the new-look weight room to their college experience, with intensity and fierce competition fueling challenging workouts.

"I call it the Baltimore Ravens University," said linebacker Gary Stills, a West Virginia alumnus. "I remember all of those things coming back to me from college. The working out, the lifting, these aren't small workouts. These are big weights, big lifts. I think it's going to help us out, especially after last year, where we're coming off so many soft-tissue injuries."

At the end of the day - and even at the end of the summer - preventing injuries is a top concern for any NFL team. It is no different for the Ravens, who have four weeks until camps begin.

"We're trying to develop a strong fitness base conditioning-wise, with the ability to change direction, so we can go into minicamp without injuries," Rogucki stated.

"We know the only way to success is to keep working harder."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content