Over the weekend, Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun reported that the Ravens faced a potential revolt over the duration of practices in advance of the division-round loss to the Steelers, with players threatening to go to the media and/or to the union over it.
The Ravens have responded, via an item posted on the team’s official website.
“I am here for every practice, year-round, and [coach] John [Harbaugh] informs me about the structure of practices, including length and repetitions,” G.M. Ozzie Newsome said. “I know practices were shorter, not only the week of the Steelers playoff game, but the weeks before, through our successful run to the postseason in December.”
Two Ravens — cornerback Chris Carr and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata — agreed with that assessment.
“They really didn’t want us to hit much, so it wasn’t really physical. We got a lot of mental work done,” Ngata told BaltimoreRavens.com. “The coaches didn’t want to have much contact, and it was pretty much the same, just not as physical as earlier in the year. . . .
“If you take the sport seriously, you’re going to have to have a great offseason, knowing that your team is going to make it into January,” Ngata added. “If you sell yourself short and do your workouts any other way, your body is going to break down earlier. I think our coaches do a great job of keeping our strength and conditioning up, and that’s why we do make it into January most of the time.”
“I can’t speak for my teammates, but I can speak for myself,” Carr said. “I think practices were scaled back from a week before the playoffs. In the playoffs, it was pretty much mental reps. It had nothing to do with why we lost. I just think it was the mistakes we made. I didn’t feel tired. Nobody out there was complaining that they were tired.
“I think the practices were definitely scaled back in our favor. It was beneficial, not a hindrance.”
Of course, all this means is that Preston’s source wasn’t Carr or Ngata (or that, if the source was Carr and/or Ngata, they sang a different tune to Preston). And even if all 53 players on the postseason roster were to publicly declare that they had no problem with the practices, it doesn’t change the fact that someone complained, accurately or not, about the situation.
Given the rancor regarding the decision to fire quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, which resulted in quarterback Joe Flacco speaking out publicly against the move, it’s fairly clear that a certain amount of dysfunction currently exists within the organization, and dysfunction can manifest itself in all sorts of different ways.