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'You’ve got to be street-smart': In wake of Kaare Vedvik's incident, Ravens remain on guard

Because he was a second-string kicker in a league where teams never bother carrying more than one at a time, Kaare Vedvik was always unlikely to make his NFL debut in Baltimore, much less stick around through September with the Ravens.

But as Vedvik and the team approach the one-month mark since his apparent assault, the lessons of the incident that likely cost the Norwegian undrafted rookie an NFL kicking job this season still reverberate in the Ravens’ locker room.

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On Sept. 1, Vedvik, 24, was found with “upper body injuries” around 4 a.m. in East Baltimore’s Midway neighborhood and was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center for treatment, police said. According to a police report, Vedvik told Ravens vice president of security Darren Sanders in the hospital later that day that he did not remember the circumstances of his assault.

A team spokesman said Vedvik suffered a contusion on the back of his head as well as significant facial injuries, including to his teeth and mouth. He was then discharged from the hospital and is recovering from the incident.

Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith said Tuesday there was no update on the investigation.

“I hope the rest of our guys learn from it as well, and anybody else out there,” coach John Harbaugh said this month. “Kids out there, hey, you’re a young person. You have a lot at stake in life. Be smart. Know your surroundings. Know where you’re at. Why are you there at that time? Doing what? Nothing good ever happens after midnight.”

As part of the NFL’s Rookie Transition Program, an onboarding platform every team hosts in June, first-year players are educated about player health and safety, along with topics such as social responsibility, finances, and player policies and resources.

The program, which began in 2016, replaced the rookie symposium in Canton, Ohio, which was open only to drafted rookies across the NFL.

Ravens rookie inside linebacker Kenny Young said Vedvik’s incident hasn’t led to a “sit-down” with team officials, but that it has underlined the importance of being prepared and smart on nights out.

“The main thing is just to be smart and learn from that situation, because things happen,” Young said Friday. “This is a learning experience for all of us. I feel bad for Kaare. I’m happy that he’s recovered back to where he needs to be, but just learn from it. I’ve had veteran guys tell me, ‘Kenny, if you go out, go out with a group of five or 10 people. Don’t go out by yourself.’ So I’m just listening and obeying what they have to say, and that’s it.”

Ravens third-year guard Alex Lewis, who served 28 days in jail for a conviction of third-degree assault while at the University of Colorado, said players have to learn how to extricate themselves from situations where physical confrontations might arise.

“Whether you’re an NFL athlete or not, you’ve always got to put yourself in safe situations, and you’ve got to be smart,” Lewis said Friday. “You’ve got to have your awareness, and you’ve got to be street-smart. You can’t put yourself in situations that cause stress or possible danger. If you’re striving for a goal, you’ve got to put that goal ahead of everything else and realize that you’re not there yet and you’ve got to take steps to get you there.”

Harbaugh has said Vedvik’s injuries likely cost him an NFL job this season. A standout punter at Marshall, Vedvik made eight of nine field-goal attempts during the Ravens’ preseason, including a 56-yarder in their preseason finale. With Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s starting job secure, Vedvik was receiving interest from around the NFL before his incident, which fell on the day teams were required to cut their rosters to 53 players.

The Ravens placed Vedvik on the reserve-nonfootball injury list, meaning he cannot return to the team’s active roster this season but can rehabilitate at the team facility.

Situational awareness is paramount in football and just as essential when going out, second-year guard Nico Siragusa said Friday. Players should know not only whom they’re going out with and where they’re headed, he said, but also that “there could always be someone who's up to no good.”

Ultimately, rookie tight end Mark Andrews said, Ravens officials can offer players only so much advice. Vedvik “wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Andrews said, but when players are on their own, it’s largely their responsibility to avoid dangerous situations.

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“Obviously, we’re here for a reason,” he said Friday. “They expect us to know where to be and where not to be. … At the end of the day, it comes down to the player and who you are and knowing what to do and knowing right from wrong.”

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