Ravens tweak conditioning after damage-filled ’21

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Baltimore Ravens are already implementing changes after a season full of injuries.

There has been more stretching during the warm-up and fewer reps in training for players at the start of the team’s offseason conditioning program this week. The Ravens come after a season in which a total of 25 players were placed on injured reserve.

“I think that means you can believe more in the process because you know the coaches and the organization are doing their best to take care of us,” Pro Bowl defender Patrick Ricard said Wednesday. “They are aware of the injuries we have had. In my opinion, you can not do the same things over and over again and get a different result. You just go insane.”

Injuries were a major factor as the Ravens finished 8-9 – the first time they have last been to AFC North in coach John Harbaugh’s 14 seasons. By the end of the season, Baltimore had eight starters on IR, including All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, and running backs JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards.

After the season, Harbaugh met with the performance staff for four hours. His message was not to overreact to the damage, but also not to minimize it.

The biggest change in the voluntary offseason program has been to reduce the workload. Exercises that were 10 to 12 repetitions are now eight to 10.

“Philosophically speaking, the program still stands on its own merits, but you’re just making small adjustments,” said Raven’s head coach for strength and fitness, Steve Saunders. “We’re going to say, ‘OK, we do not know what these guys have done. Let’s take a little step back and maybe spend a little more time in the evaluation process, adding some other things to the program.’ “

This is the first conditioning program out of season, after being virtual the last two springs due to the pandemic. Last summer, the Ravens endured a stretch where five players, including three running backs, suffered season-ending injuries over 19 days.

Had not a program last year contributed to the team’s preseason injuries?

“You never know what contributed to what,” Saunders said. “It certainly wasn’t a plus.”

Last month, Harbaugh said the Ravens will also adjust their practice during the offseason and training camp in an effort to reduce injuries.



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