Ravens Lose OTAs for Violating Practice Rules

In case you couldn’t already tell, the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement is not to be messed with. It’s a lesson the Baltimore Ravens won’t soon forget, following the handing down of a punishment to the team for improperly practicing in full football gear during a strict “no contact” part of the offseason.

According to CBS’ NFL insider Jason La Canfora, the Ravens will “lose three [Organized Team Activity] sessions,” along with “fines levied at the team and head coach John Harbaugh for violating offseason practice policies.”

All across the NFL, teams are slowly preparing for the summer grind of training camp and preseason by limbering up, walking through and getting into football shape…all in shorts, singlets and tees.

In an attempt to stem the flow of needless injuries being suffered months before the start of meaningful football, the latest CBA included provisions about the extent and frequency of non-contact practice periods. Disregarding that rule, the Ravens hit the field in pads, helmets and cleats, perhaps keen to cleanse the pallet of last year’s dreadful 5-11 campaign as quickly as possible.

But perhaps the punishment is a blessing in disguise for Baltimore. A team many expected to compete with the best of the AFC in 2015 was neutered by a seemingly endless string of injuries that rendered even diehard fans unfamiliar with the roster by season’s end. Veteran pass rusher Terrelle Suggs was a scratch before the season began, and was joined by promising rookie receiver Breshad Perriman, ageless wideout Steve Smith, emerging RB Justin Forsett and team leader Joe Flacco as the season dragged on.

The incident won’t exactly warrant an asterisk next to Baltimore’s 2016 campaign, but it is a timely warning that grizzled players and coaches are no match for well-groomed lawyers and neatly organized paperwork.

The Ravens readily owned up to the indiscretion, stating, “We made a mistake and we are sorry for that. We accept the NFL discipline.”

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