OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Numerous NFL players have opted out of voluntary workouts because of ongoing concerns with COVID-19.
During Phase 1 of the offseason program, running April 19-May 14, all team meetings will be held virtually and no on-field work will be permitted. Players are allowed to work out in the weight room under the direction of the team's strength and conditioning coaches.
Several Ravens have taken advantage of that option and are back at the training facility getting ready for the season.
“I’ve been on record saying that already. It’s football practice; it’s a team game; it’s the ultimate team game." Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Since I’ve been in the League, in terms of the controversy about the whole thing, it’s been voluntary. We coach every guy that wants to be here. Every [player] that decides to show up, we’ll coach, and that’s what we’ll do.
"So, I’m looking forward to it, and when they get here, we’ll be coaching them – that’s kind of how it works out. And we’ve got guys in the building today. We have guys, we have non-rehab guys here. So, guys make their choices, and the guys who are here, we’re coaching them up.”
The Ravens and the rest of the NFL did not have offseason workouts last year because of the pandemic. Teams were able to have a training camp on-site but the preseason games were canceled.
The NFL informed teams earlier this month that the first four weeks of the voluntary program will be virtual. The plan is to then transition to in-person work at team facilities.
Virtual volunteer meetings will also be held in the second phase that runs from May 17 to May 21. On-field drills are permitted under the Phase 2 guidelines. Rookie minicamps, which are annually held during this phase, will take place as normal.
Under Phase 3, from May 24 through June 18, teams may conduct 10 days of OTAs with players on the field no more than two hours per day. Mandatory veteran minicamps can be held during this phase. Meetings during this phase can be virtual or in-person, with limits on the number of people allowed in various parts of a team facility.
"We’re coaches. We coach; that’s what we’re preparing to do," Harbaugh said. "We love our players, and we love to teach. We work together with any player [and] every player that chooses to be here to help in every way we can. Individually, collectively [or] as a team, [we] help them build their game and achieve their goals and dreams as football players. So, that’s how we look at it as coaches. It’s pretty simple.”