By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
9:48 PM EDT, March 25, 2014
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh became the third member of the organization, following wide receiver Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta, to confirm that quarterback Joe Flacco is actively setting up informal workouts with his receivers before the start of offseason team activities.
The details, like the exact dates and location for the workouts, aren’t known, but what is clear is that Flacco has had discussions with his teammates about it, and everybody is seemingly on board.
“They’ve got some things planned, a throwing session,” Harbaugh said today from the NFL owners meetings. “I’m not sure where. I’ve heard different sites. Joe’s got to get that worked out. That’s up to him to do. But I’ve heard they’re doing that. Joe has kind of communicated that through texts, and Torrey has told me that they have a session planned and are trying to work out the dates and all that. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it goes. It is important. It’s big.”
Flacco is a regular at the team facility for the various offseason workouts and minicamps. However, he hasn’t traditionally organized offsite workouts for the Ravens’ skill players, something that several other quarterbacks, including Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have done in recent years.
It’s been a popular topic of conversation, particularly on the radio, as the quarterback is coming off a season in which he threw a franchise record 22 interceptions – 10 more than he has thrown in any season in his career – and struggled to get in sync with his targets.
Harbaugh defended Flacco, saying that he did improve in certain areas, including his ability to make plays out of the pocket. However, he did acknowledge that the informal workouts can only help a player of Flacco’s caliber.
“Doing extra work is critically important as far as the strength and conditioning — balance, body control, foot quickness, athleticism-type things because they’re with us so little,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh then used the opportunity to speak out on the restrictions in the collective bargaining agreement that prevent teams and coaches from working with the players more.
“The management council and the players association have got to get together and help us as organizations and coaches help our young players develop as people and players. I mean come on,” Harbaugh said. “You hold us responsible and want us to be a factor in their lives like the mentoring program and things like that. Give us a chance. We don’t see these guys until April 21. Our guys are champing at the bit to be in the building. They’re in the building working out. We can’t have a conversation with them other than ‘Hi, how are you doing,?’ This is not the NCAA. This is not recruiting. These are our guys. We want what’s best for our players. That’s what’s good for the league. That’s what good for these young men. And that’s what they want.
“Young guys want a chance to compete in the National Football League for a job. 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.”
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