Baltimore Ravens

Preston: Welcome to 'Hardcore Harbaugh's Training Camp'

Ravens coach John Harbaugh looks on during a game against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is going old school again.

I can see the slogan "Welcome to Hardcore Harbaugh's Training Camp" emblazoned on those famous purple T-Shirts he likes to hand out when training camp opens. He isn't going to be nasty like a Marine sergeant in boot camp, but he will be tougher and more demanding than previous seasons.


It's already started. There are some who are trying to find an underlying reason behind the Ravens' supposed violations of the collective bargaining agreement; Harbaugh recently had his first-year and tryout players in full pads during rookie mini-camp.

The only real explanation is sheer stupidity on Harbaugh's part. There is nothing for the Ravens to gain having these rookies participating in what some have reported as a special teams drill.


Were the Ravens going to come up with some tricky, triple reverse on a punt return? Were they going to implement the "The Fumblerooski?"

No, but I could see Harbaugh during one of his tantrums or emotional outbursts ordering his rookies to go full-tilt.

It's not a major infraction, but it looks bad on the team, especially because Harbaugh violated rules in 2010 concerning the intensity and tempo of drills during OTA's, and also for having his players spending too much time at the team's training facility.

Harbaugh isn't in the same class as New England coach Bill Belichick when it comes to cheating, but he tries to circumvent the rules as much as his brother Jim, the coach at the University of Michigan.

Because of that perception, John Harbaugh should never complain about any team ever violating the rules again.

But if you look deeper than the violations, you're beginning to see a change in Harbaugh's approach. The new boss is the same as the old boss. When Harbaugh first came to the Ravens in 2008, he had the reputation of being tough and demanding.

That reputation played a part in Hall of Fame left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden's decision to retire instead of playing a 13th season. Harbaugh's style also caused a rift between him and veterans Chris McAlister, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.

But in the last four or five years, there has been a change. Harbaugh hasn't mellowed, but he's modified his training regimine because he had an older team. Veterans started getting days off in training camp, and they received other perks because Harbaugh wanted them fresh at the end of the season.


But after missing the playoffs two of the last three seasons including a 5-11 campaign last year, the pendulum has swung the other way. If Harbaugh is going to go down, he is going with his team having given the maximum effort.

That's why the Ravens got rid of veterans such as defensive end Chris Canty and linebacker Daryl Smith. It's only a matter of time before left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe goes as well.

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In 2015, 12 starters missed a combined 71 games and 20 players landed on injured reserve. To help improve that situation, the Ravens brought in Steve Saunders as their director of performance and recovery. That move might reduce injuries but it will also mean more running and conditioning, and more moaning and complaining.

Offseason training activities begin this week, and the tone for 2016 is also evident in the recent rookie class. The Ravens signed several weight-lifting warriors in linebackers Kamalei Correa, Victor Ochi and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.

Harbaugh wants to put energy back into this team, but is he panicking?

Not really. He is just doing what he knows best, going back to being old school. His principles and philosophy remain the same, but good coaches adjust to the style and personality of each team.


He is taking a mild risk. Veterans like receiver Steve Smith and guard Marshal Yanda will get their days off and will continue to be monitored. Unlike Canty and Monroe, both made contributions last season

The Ravens have moved on and they've gotten younger. And with that infusion of youth, Harbaugh has decided to be more demanding. It's a new style that is really an old one.

And it's a great slogan to put on a T-shirt.