Mailbag: Why Are Ravens Moving to Afternoon Training Camp Practices?

(From left to right) FB/DL Patrick Ricard & CB Kevon Seymour

Mink: The decision to move practice to the afternoon is based on the Ravens' data and research. One of Head Coach John Harbaugh's best attributes is that he's always looking for ways to improve how the team operates and prepares, and he's not beholden to conventional thought just because that's the way it's always been done. The Ravens have put a lot of analysis into this.

The general strategy is that practicing in the afternoon gives players' bodies a chance to "warm up" before practice. Getting on the field first thing in the morning can be a shock to the system. Much of Baltimore's strategy, even in the way it organizes practices now, is about easing into the action.

Yes, it will be hotter in the afternoon, but you can expect the Ravens to take more cool-down breaks on the hottest days of camp. They will be mindful to monitor players' bodies and how they are holding up, physically, over the course of practice. Baltimore will also be doing more drills on air as opposed to against another player, at least in the early days/weeks of camp.

Keep in mind, none of this guarantees the Ravens won't have injuries. Injuries happen. They're just part of the sport and luck plays a big role. But Harbaugh and his staff, including medical/nutrition and Football Performance Coach Sam Rosengarten, have done their due diligence trying to minimize injury risk as much as possible.

Downing: It's unusual with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement to have rookies holding out during camp. David Ojabo is the lone unsigned draft pick from this year's rookie class. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the holdup on the deal is that "the two sides have been unable to agree on Ojabo's third-year guarantee percentage." This seems like a fairly small detail of a rookie contract, so it would be surprising to see this holdout linger for too long. A few second-round picks around the league took longer to sign their rookie contracts as they negotiated for more guaranteed money, and it sounds like that's part of the deal with Ojabo.

It's also worth noting with Ojabo that he isn't missing any practice time with this holdout because he's still recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in March during a pre-draft workout. The Ravens hope to get him on the field this season, but the Ravens already knew he wouldn't be ready to start the season. Ojabo is missing meetings and rehab time at the facility, but he's still a bit away from getting on the practice field. Ojabo's absence isn't too big of a concern at this point, and Schefter reported that "it shouldn't be hard to get a deal done."

Downing: I agree with the notion that Oweh will lead the team in sacks this year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him hit double digits this season. I expect the veteran Justin Houston to come in second in the sack race. The veteran put up 4.5 sacks last year, but that number should increase this season. Houston had a handful of sacks slip out of his fingers last year on plays his typically makes, and he can turn those quarterback hits into sacks this season. The Ravens will also rely on Houston in a big way early in the season. Ojabo won't be ready at the start and Tyus Bowser is also recovering from a torn Achilles, so Houston may see a heavier workload early in the year.

Bowser is still a candidate to put up strong sack numbers this year. He's progressed well throughout his rehab and had the most sacks (7) last season. Don't rule him out from being a major factor in this competition. A couple other players who could put themselves in that conversation are Calais Campbell or Patrick Queen.

Mink: Feisty. Lamar Jackson is definitely feisty (just ask Bernard Pollard). The wide receivers are feisty about people doubting them. Injured players are feisty about getting back on the field. The team in general is feisty about how last year ended, falling from the No. 1 seed in the AFC to out of the playoffs. This team just seems to have a chip on its shoulder entering training camp. "We have a lot of goals and aspirations. For us, it's being the most disciplined team, focusing on the details during this time, and being a hungry team – which we will be," Mark Andrews said as camp kicked off.

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