For the second time in three years, the Baltimore Ravens are facing NFL discipline for violating offseason workout rules under the league's collective bargaining agreement.
The Ravens will forfeit their final two organized team activities this week as a result of an undisclosed infraction, NFL Vice President of Football Communications Michael Signora announced Tuesday. Owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh have been fined $100,000 and $50,000, respectively, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via sources informed of the situation.
The Baltimore Sun first reported the team's latest breach of CBA protocol. In a statement released by the team, Harbaugh explained that the Ravens have been "singled out for pass coverage contact" during the early portion of OTAs.
"We have heavily emphasized these CBA pass coverage rules in meetings, and coached them diligently on the practice field," Harbaugh continued. "It has also been our priority to include our veteran players, along with new Ravens who have practiced and played for other teams, in the process and use their input and ideas. Even with consistent and repeated teaching, these rules pose considerable adjustments for the young players."
"We have tried very hard to eliminate contact in pass coverage during OTAs, even so far as to pull players out of practice who struggle with these adjustments. I am confident we have done everything within our power and ability to practice within the rules, and we will continue to focus on preparing, teaching and practicing the right way."
General manager Ozzie Newsome released his own statement on the matter, insisting the organization is "vigilant" about practicing within the parameters set by the CBA.
"I attend every practice and then watch the practices again on video," Newsome explained. "I see how the coaching staff teaches, corrects and addresses issues immediately on the field. In meetings, I have watched John's presentation to his players and assistants regarding how to properly practice and the pace of these sessions. We have players competing, including rookies and those fighting to make our team. Sometimes breaking old practice habits of these players, especially rookies, takes more repetitions. We'll continue to be vigilant about this."
Harbaugh's squad will return for mandatory minicamp next week after losing June 7 and 8 practice sessions.
Harbaugh has been a strident critic of the rules stemming from the 2011 CBA, once describing the offseason restrictions on player development as "un-American."
"Young guys want a chance to compete in the National Football League for a job," Harbaugh offered, via ESPN.com, in 2014. "They want to go see their position coach. They want to learn football. It's their craft. And we're saying, 'No, you can't do it?'
"Why? Because of the collective bargaining agreement that makes no sense? Because somebody wanted to get their little win here vs. their little win over there? Get together and do what's best for these players, and it's about time that somebody stepped to the plate and realized that and [took] the politics out of it."