There's guarded optimism that Ravens veteran free safety Will Hill could potentially have his six-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy reduced, according to sources.
Under a revised drug policy that's been approved in balloting by the NFL Players Association player representatives that still requires NFL approval, the threshold for testing positive for marijuana has increased from 15 ng/m to 35 ng/m. That falls below the international standard of 150 ng/m used by the World Anti-Doping agency.
Hill lost his appeal earlier this year and was cut by the New York Giants. Hill previously told The Baltimore Sun that he failed his drug test due to inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke. Hill has served two games of his six-game punishment.
Hill is a three-time violator of NFL drug policies with a previous suspension for performance-enhancing drugs for taking Adderall, a drug commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he wasn't sure what will happen with Hill. The Ravens are closely monitoring the situation and hoping that Hill will be reinstated.
"I have no sense of that at all," Harbaugh said. "No one has spoken to me about that, and I don't know a thing about that right now. I'm interested in it, though."
The Ravens signed Hill to a one-year, $570,000 deal in July.
Talented with long arms and good size at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds, Hill could push starter Darian Stewart for playing time. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees praised Hill during the preseason and said he wished the former Giants starter was eligible to play at the start of the regular season.
Hlll's playing skills haven't been in question -- he had 77 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles last season -- but his decision-making and compliance with the NFL rulebook on drug use have consistently fallen short. The Giants gave Hill multiple chances before ultimately giving up on him.
"Just being irresponsible," Hill told The Sun during training camp when asked about his problems with drugs. "Yeah, I feel like I've learned. I'm ready to play football. They talked to the Giants and they had nothing but good words to say about me."
When asked if he's done with marijuana, Hill replied: "Everything is behind me."
Hill said he spoke with general manager Ozzie Newsome to assure him that he's not going to continue his pattern of off-field problems.
"Yeah, basically, it was just getting comfortable with each other and letting him know that the things that happened before won't be happening here," Hill said.
Declaring early for the NFL draft out of Florida in 2011 after being suspended by the Gators for testing positive for marijuana, Hill drew scrutiny from NFL teams due to a series of controversial posts on his official Twitter account, including photos of scantily-clad women, sexual references and profanity.
The former blue-chip recruit from St. Peter's in New Jersey went undrafted and later joined the Giants.
In December last year, Hill was arrested when police said they noticed an odor of marijuana coming from his vehicle when he was pulled over. He was never formally charged with a crime.
Hill, 24, has 115 tackles, two interceptions and three forced fumbles in two NFL seasons.
"It's a blessing just to play on any team," Hill said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time."
Mum's the word
Harbaugh declined to offer any kind of update about injured players on Monday, including cornerbacks Asa Jackson (concussion) and Lardarius Webb (lower back).
Webb has been inching closer to playing after missing the first two games and there's increased hope among team officials that he'll make his season debut against the Browns.
"We're going to have this conversation every week, but I'm just not going to get into injuries," Harbaugh said. "There's no strategic advantage for us in doing it and putting that information out there. I'm really optimistic about all our guys, but I've been optimistic in the past and guys haven't played. We'll keep our fingers crossed.
"[Webb] has been doing everything he can to get back every week. He's been practicing. As you know, he's been full participation."
The Ravens have committed just seven penalties in two games. They finished last season with 112 penalties for 942 yards. "Our guys have done a great job this year of really trying to understand the way that the game is going to be called, and that's an ongoing process," Harbaugh said. "We're still learning that. I'm still watching different crews call different games and trying to figure out how exactly some of the stuff is going to be called." … As former FBI director Robert Mueller III begins his investigation into the NFL's pursuit and handling of evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence case, Harbaugh said it's unclear what kind of time commitment it will require to comply with the inquiry. "That's not something that anybody has given me any kind of schedule or timetable on," he said. "I have absolutely no idea how that's going to unwind." ... The Ravens signed undrafted rookie cornerback Lou Young (Good Counsel), who worked out for them at their local prospects day in the spring, to the practice squad. Young replaces cornerback Jamell Fleming, who was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs to their active roster off the Ravens' practice squad on Friday. Young has a previous stint with the Denver Broncos and played collegiately at Georgia Tech.