The official start of the NFL season was technically March 10 for teams, but for the players, the start of offseason workouts is when the new season begins.
The Baltimore Ravens began their voluntary program today, the first day of a nine-week offseason agenda intended to prepare players for the upcoming season. Most of the Ravens roster is in attendance at the Under Armour Performance Center, and will be working out for the next two weeks. Several players, including Justin Forsett, were in attendance.
The excitement of the players returning is something Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh embraces. He also expects most of his players to be in the building, even though participation is voluntary.
"“If you don’t like being around when the players come back, you’re in the wrong business. This is what we do. This is football, man. When the football players come back in the building, everybody should be excited about that.”"
The offseason workouts are broken down into three parts. The opening phase is limited to strength and conditioning, rehabilitation and classroom activities. Each process is limited in how coaches can interact with players, based on the rules in the collective bargaining agreement.
- The weight room work is permitted with the team’s strength and conditioning coaches, but position coaches aren’t allowed in the weight room.
- Coaches are allowed to participate in film study for up to two hours a day.
- There is no on-field work during this period. Helmets are not permitted and no footballs are to be used with the exception of quarterbacks throwing to wide receivers.
The focus is strictly on getting the players in shape for next season.
"“We fully expect our guys to be in shape when they walk in the door,” Harbaugh said. “And if they’re not in shape, they’re going to have to work extra hard to get caught up. Most of our guys, if not all of our guys, are already going to be in phenomenal shape.”"
The second phase is scheduled for May 4 through May 24, which allows players to be on the field for positional drills but no team 11-on-11 scrimmages. The final stage (May 25 through June 21) gives teams up to 10 organized team activities (OTAs) and one mandatory minicamp. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.
There is a minicamp scheduled from June 16-18, which is mandatory for all players to attend.
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The NFL is expected to release the full 2015 schedule tomorrow, and the Ravens will know exactly who they will face off against in Week 1. The schedule will feature opponents from the NFC and AFC West divisions, in addition to the usual AFC North foes.
The next nine weeks will be spent getting ready for whoever that opponent may be, and hopefully conclude with a trip to the Super Bowl at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California come Feb. 7, 2016.
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