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Awaiting ruling on Ray Rice situation, Harbaugh says he expects NFL to be 'fair, judicious'

As the Ravens await word from the NFL on potential discipline for Ray Rice stemming from a domestic violence incident, coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence that the league will be fair to the three-time Pro Bowl running back.

Rice is facing a potential multi-game suspension under the NFL personal-conduct policy. Rice was charged with felony aggravated assault following a physical altercation with his then-fiancee Janay Palmer, whom he later married. Rice has resolved the legal situation without any jail time after being accepted into a pretrial diversion program.

“It's not my decision to make, or any of us here," Harbaugh said Tuesday following a training camp practice. “It's in other people's hands. I'm sure there's a lot of complications making these kinds of decisions. There are many sides to every story, and there are a lot of factors. There are other people involved.

“There are other disciplinary situations involved around the league. That has to be weighed in and taken into context You’re going to have to sort through that to be fair. I know the league is very judicious about that. They work really hard to do the right thing. I don't think they worry about public opinion too much. They want to do the right thing by the people involved. We’ll see where it goes.”

The Ravens have contingency plans factoring in Rice being unavailable, including how they'll utilize reserve running backs Bernard Pierce, Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett. What they don't know is how long Rice would be sidelined.

Harbaugh said he didn't think that the uncertainty is having a negative effect on the team at this early stage of training camp, adding that practice repetitions won't be altered at this point to account for Rice's unresolved situation. By midway through the preseason, Harbaugh said the team will need to know Rice's status.

"I don't think it affects us until halfway through training camp maybe," Harbaugh said. "We'll just be business as usual until then. We're installing for the first six days and working in situaitons through the first two preseason games. Once we get past the second preseason game, then we'll need to know. Whenever they're ready to let us know, then we'll be ready to hear it."

Five Ravens players, including Rice, were arrested this offseason. That's the most in the NFL, and one more than the Ravens' combined total over the previous six years.

That includes offensive lineman Jah Reid (misdemeanor battery, Key West, Fla., accepted into pretrial diversion program); wide receiver Deonte Thompson (felony possession of marijuana, Gainesville, Fla., case dismissed), Taliaferro (misdemeanor destruction of property, drunk in public, July 31 court date) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (misdemeanor disorderly conduct).

When asked how he's addressed the uptick in off-field problems, Harbaugh replied: "I think the point has been made."

Smith is awaiting a court date after being arrested at The Greene Turtle in Towson after failure to comply with a police officer's lawful order, according to a police report.

Harbaugh said he's spoken with Smith about the situation, but declined to disclose the substance of what they talked about.

"It's a private conversation," Harbaugh said. "I understand what happened, I believe. I heard it from a lot of different sources. I haven't thought about it since. I think I've given it the attention it deserves."

awilson@baltsun.com

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