TOWSON — Due to the NFL labor dispute that has endangered the season and practically erased the offseason, training camps will probably be abbreviated significantly whenever the impasse between the owners and the players is broken.
Although the NFL will want to have some kind of preparation time to maintain safety and the standard of play, it’s still likely to be abridged.
That begs the question: How much training camp do the players need to get ready for the regular season?
Last year, the Ravens’ training camp at McDaniel College was exactly three weeks before they returned to their $35 million training complex in Owings Mills for the remainder of the preseason.
As far as Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is concerned, a few weeks would suffice.
“I need about two weeks,” Rice said during the Ravens’ recent informal player workouts at Towson University. "I think with us as a veteran group, we can get by within a week, just being honest. We’re not putting in a whole new offense, whole new defense. Our thing is going to be timing. Two weeks, essentially, will get us where we need to be.”
Although Chuck Pagano is a new defensive coordinator, he’s not new to the defense after being promoted from secondary coach.
The Ravens are unlikely to change their schemes much at all except Pagano may blitz more than former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
And offensive coordinator Cam Cameron returns for his fourth season in Baltimore.
The Ravens are in a better situation than many teams that are breaking in new coaches and installing new playbooks.
However, not every player agrees with Rice that camp should be truncated.
"I need the normal number," inside linebacker Jameel McClain said. "I want to get back to playing football just like everybody wants to get back to seeing it. It’s simple. How much training camp do I need? How much do we usually go?"
Whenever football resumes, the Ravens will still need to get acclimated to hitting again.
"Football shape is totally different," Rice said. "There’s no substitute for hitting and contact. Your body tells itself, ‘I don’t want to be hit anymore,’ during training camp. That’s the part of fatigue that nobody’s going to be ready for, whether it’s now or training camp. When you get that first contact, you find yourself getting tired fast.”
Veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason, 37, is entering his 15th NFL season and acknowledged that the players will need time to get ready.
“It might be abbreviated," Mason said. "But, as players, we need some type of training camp."
Meanwhile, the Ravens are staying in shape for whenever the lockout is over.
"I’m just a guy that stays positive," Rice said. "At the end of the day, I realize that we can only control one thing and that’s being ready. I’m excited to be out here with the guys, running around like a little kid, get to teach a little bit. I’m sure the coaches are doing their homework. We’re out here working.
"It’s different in terms of being at the facility. It’s not different in terms of how I work. I’ve always been a guy who came into camp ready. I know how to take care of my body. That’s the biggest concern I’m sure people have. You really don’t know who’s working and who’s not working, but I’m sure guys with this extra time are working."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times