Much has been made around here -- and elsewhere too -- about which players have and haven’t been attending the Ravens’ voluntary organized team activities the past three weeks. The Ravens were missing seven players during their first OTA that was open to media two Wednesdays ago. Attendance dipped the following Wednesday.
This week, 19 players were not on the field. Is this a big deal? Here are some points to consider.
For one, these roll call totals can be misleading. We couldn’t spot 19 players from the 90-man roster during Wednesday’s OTA workout. But then again, Terrell Suggs and Michael McAdoo, who have both sustained season-threatening injuries, wouldn’t be out there. Neither would Ray Rice, who hasn’t signed his franchise tender. Rookie cornerback Asa Jackson would love to be here, but he is finishing up at Cal Poly. By our math, these all count toward the 19 absentees.
Safety Bernard Pollard was among those who didn’t practice on Wednesday, but he Tweeted this from the facility Thursday morning. So he's around. There are other players like Pollard who could be at practice one day, but not on the field when we are there for whatever reason.
And as I mentioned Wednesday, there have been players who have been in the building at different points in time, but have not been practicing due to injury. We have learned that defensive end Pernell McPhee has been dealing with a minor injury, and it’s believed that offensive tackle Jah Reid has been around the facility some the past couple of weeks, even if he hasn’t been participating in the practices open to the media.
Sure, these guys are missing valuable practice time for whatever reason -- and that’s significant for a young player such as McPhee. But some would have been out on the field had the trainers had allowed them to do so.
We know that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh doesn’t want to discuss injuries with reporters, especially during these voluntary workouts, and he certainly isn’t going to share his thoughts on the players who chose to skip OTAs. These are voluntary, and there would be repercussions if he openly ripped his players for sitting them out. However, it will be a different story at next week’s mandatory minicamp, which is, well, mandatory.
I’m sure Harbaugh was hoping for perfect attendance at OTAs, and that includes star defenders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who usually work out elsewhere during the offseason. His brother, Jim, has had perfect attendance at his OTAs out in San Francisco. Down I-95, the Washington Redskins are touting their perfect attendance, too.
But there have been big-name players across the league who have skipped workouts. In Pittsburgh, where the Steelers are getting used to new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed three of the team’s eight OTAs. Brian Urlacher and Matt Forte were among the notable no-shows at Chicago Bears workouts. And then there is the Seattle Seahawks, who were forced to forfeit their final week of OTAs.
That said, it looks as if the Ravens are the among the league leaders, if not the worst, when it comes to OTA absentees. So I ask again now that I have presented you all these semi-random tidbits: Is this a big deal?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.