PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
As the Ravens opened voluntary organized training activities this week, one of the players notably absent was running back Ray Rice.
Rice and the Ravens are in the midst of contract negotiations, and the fifth-year running back has opted not to participate in the voluntary workouts this offseason.
Despite Rice’s decision not to participate, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh and a number of veteran players aren’t worried about it.
“It’s really not a problem at all,” Harbaugh said. “You still run practice, it’s no different. The young guys are doing a great job. I’d love to have all the guys here. We’d love for every guy to be here, but it’s not realistic in today’s business environment and all that. We’re just moving forward.”
Rice’s decision not to attend was hardly a surprise, as it’s common for veteran players to skip voluntary offseason activities, especially if they’re in the midst of contract negotiations.
Other veterans like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Matt Birk also did not participate.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t here,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We’re professional football players, no matter what, we know how to play football. We didn’t have anything last year and we came out here and went to the AFC championship game.”
In Rice’s case, the desire for a long-term contract is likely a factor behind his decision not to attend. The Ravens applied the franchise tag to him, but he has yet to sign the tag and is hoping to get a new deal in place before the start of the season.
Harbaugh isn’t worried about the contract negotiations between the two sides becoming a distraction for the team.
“Our guys don’t seem distracted,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think our situations are serious situations. They are just part of doing business. It’s the way it works. It’s the nature of it. I think the players have handled it really well.”
At a recent event in the Baltimore area, Rice emphasized that he’ll be ready to go when he does arrive and his coach and teammates echoed that belief on Wednesday.
“I don’t worry about Ray,” Harbaugh said. “Ray Rice is working hard.”
“He’s working out what he’s got to work out and what’s best for him, and I’m in his corner,” Flacco added. “The only thing I know is that his contract is up and we should probably pay him.”