The Ravens were back on the practice field this week for the start of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
And they didn't ease into the action. They dove.
Head Coach John Harbaugh led the team through three tough, up-tempo practices at the Under Armour Performance Center.
"Practices have been very, very fast and very efficient," Harbaugh said.
Not only were the practices up-tempo, they were also held during a week of intense heat. The temperature was in the mid-80s for practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then in the mid-70s during a muggy afternoon on Thursday.
"The heat helped us," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It made it tough for the guys, but it helped us. It's something that's good for us to push through. It made the practice tougher. I thought the guys did a good job of handling it."
Part of these early offseason practices is to ensure that players are in shape. The team pays close attention to players' weight and conditioning, and tough practices in May ensure everyone is ready when training camp rolls around at the end of July.
"You have to be in very good shape to practice at the pace that we practice at," Harbaugh said. "You can't make it through the practice if you aren't in great shape. That's why it's so important in our program to be in great condition. Our guys believe in that. We believe that we play like we practice, and therefore, we are going to practice faster than a game, if we can. So our guys need to be in great shape."
A number of players tweeted or commented about the challenging practices.
"We practice at a very high tempo, and if we just continue to do this for the next couple weeks, guys are going to leave in great condition," quarterback Joe Flacco said.
"OTA'S was very real today," defensive lineman Art Jones tweeted. "I embrace the grind. If it was easy everyone would do it!!!"
Practices during OTAs are not quite as intense as those during training camp because there are still limits on what the players can do. They practice in helmets and shorts, and the drills are not full-contact.
However, OTAs are the first time the team is able to hold 11-on-11 drills in a full practice setting and it was also the first opportunity for the rookies and veterans to get on the field together.
The Ravens ended OTAs Thursday to give players and coaches a long Memorial Day Weekend, and they'll be back to work Tuesday.