John Harbaugh made sure everybody knew there was no ambiguity about where he stood on several proposed rule changes at this week's owners meetings.
The Ravens coach spent a good chunk of his hour-long interview with reporters Tuesday on the subject, referring to the time element involved with the league's current catch rule as "nebulous, nefarious [and] mysterious," and calling for the league's competition committee, of which Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is a member, to simplify certain rules.
His comments came a couple of hours before the league would announce the adoption of several rule changes, including permanently moving the line of scrimmage for extra-point tries to the 15-yard line, banning all chop blocks and expanding the horse-collar rule.
The Ravens' proposal to have players wear vests with numbers more appropriate of their position — it's designed to help referees better differentiate between eligible and ineligible receivers — didn't gain any traction this week, though Harbaugh feels it's only a matter of time before a change is made.
However, the Ravens' proposal to expand instant replay is believed to remain under consideration. Under the proposal, just eight types of plays would not be reviewable, including offensive and defensive holding, offensive defensive pass interference and illegal contact.
Hits that involve player-safety issues would also be reviewable, which Harbaugh said is a must.
"Our proposal solves a lot of problems. It cleans up a lot of things," Harbaugh said. "Right now there are 33 definitions or notes in the rule book about what is reviewable. At some point in time, that balance is going to outweigh anybody's ability to understand it. We're trying to get new fans all across the globe, and our rules need to be understandable. And the technology has out-paced the rule book right now."
Harbaugh said five league games during the 2015 season were decided on non-reviewable plays.
"We can't fix it because we decide not to be able to fix it," Harbaugh said. "We can fix it. Just fix it. Make it reviewable."
Facility to be upgraded
The Under Armour Performance Center will soon undergo a $35 million renovation, owner Steve Bisciotti said Tuesday. The Owings Mills training facility is 12 years old and Bisciotti said "it's time" for it to be upgraded.
Since the building opened, Bisciotti estimated that the Ravens have added 50 full-time non-uniformed positions.
The renovation will increase the size of the locker and training rooms, and also add another area for equipment like hyperbaric chambers and other injury-preventive measures. Office space will also be upgraded.
Ravens not done
The Ravens were uncharacteristically aggressive in free agency, and Harbaugh says that the team might not be done, even though the open market has thinned out considerably.
"Ozzie had a tremendous plan and structure in place for how we were going to approach free agency with the money, and we're not done yet," Harbaugh said. The Ravens have $8 million in salary cap space.
It's been well-documented that the team is looking to solidify itself at left tackle and they want to add another pass rusher, cornerback, and possibly another inside linebacker. Harbaugh casually brought up veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney as a guy the Ravens could consider.
Good news on Gillmore
When the offseason began, the Ravens thought that Crockett Gillmore would need surgery to repair labrum tears in both of his shoulders, a diagnosis that would have likely forced the starting tight end to miss part of training camp. However, a recent follow-up revealed that Gillmore, who has already had one shoulder repaired, doesn't need surgery in the other shoulder.
The development could mean that Gillmore will be on the field in time for organized team activities. Harbaugh also said that quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and rush linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles) remain on schedule to be ready for training camp.
Veteran RB likely to join team
Harbaugh said that the Ravens have an "unofficial" agreement with former Alabama running back Trent Richardson and he expects him to join the team in a couple of weeks. Richardson, 25, worked out for the team earlier this month and the team wanted him to get in better shape before signing him
"It's in Trent's court," Harbaugh said, adding that both he and Newsome have been in contact with Richardson in recent weeks. "I'm planning on Trent being a Raven right now. I'm kind of excited about it. Here's a high-caliber, high draft pick guy that seems like he's really motivated and wants to do well."
Harbaugh currently sees the team's left tackle situation as a competition between five guys: Eugene Monroe, right tackle Rick Wagner, James Hurst, De'Ondre Wesley, and Blaine Clausell. … Harbaugh said that he likes the team's internal inside linebacker options – Zachary Orr, Arthur Brown and Albert McClellan – and mentioned that the team could also move a safety to the position. … The Ravens are still monitoring the status of their free agent linebacker Courtney Upshaw, but it appears unlikely he returns unless a market for Upshaw doesn't materialize. … Harbaugh acknowledged that releasing safety Will Hill, who is facing a 10-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, was not a football decision. … Asked about Monroe's much-publicized stance on medical marijuana, Harbaugh said, "I promise you, he does not speak for the organization."