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Ravens at crossroads with Earl Thomas

Safety had altercation in practice

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There should be more clarity with the Ravens and Earl Thomas over the coming days.

It's certainly not an issue they want to carry over to the regular season, which is just under a month away.

Thomas was sent home and later told to stay away from practice following an altercation with fellow safety Chuck Clark. The incident began when Thomas blew a coverage assignment during a team drill and was vociferously reprimanded by Clark. 

The two then had to be separated by their teammates and coaches. 

Thomas posted a video of the play leading up to the altercation on social media before taking it down. The Ravens could not have been pleased with him broadcasting their practice.  

Clark is one of the most respected players on the team. As a sixth-round pick from Virginia Tech, he excelled on special teams and took over as the starter at safety when Tony Jefferson went down with a season-ending knee injury last year. 

Clark never relinquished the job and wound up with a career-high 68 tackles, one sack, one interception, nine passes defended, and two forced fumbles. He was rewarded with a three-year contract extension in February and is one of the leaders on defense.

Thomas signed a four year, $55 million deal with $32 million guaranteed prior to last season. After a slow start, he eventually grasped the Ravens' playbook and made the Pro Bowl.

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However, he also had an incident last year with defensive tackle Brandon Williams in the training room following a 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Williams was inactive because of a knee injury and Thomas questioned his commitment.

This offseason, Thomas had a domestic incident with his wife where he wrested a gun from her. He was not charged in that incident.

Thomas is often viewed as an aloof teammate and there has been talk that he has been late or missed meetings this season. If that is true, then the Ravens could build a case that his conduct is detrimental to the team and they could void his contract.

As it stands, the Ravens would have to absorb a $15-million cap this season and $10 million next year if they released him. That's simply too much money to go that route,

The best-case scenario is the two sides can put this incident behind them and get ready for the Browns for the regular-season opener on Sept. 13. However, if that's not possible, the Ravens will have to find a resolution. 

There's talk the players are clamoring for third-year player DeShon Elliott to take over Thomas' role. However, Elliott has been placed on IR for the past two years and needs to prove that he can stay healthy.

The Thomas situation is surely not a distraction that Ravens need amid their Super Bowl aspirations.