A few Ravens got off to an inauspicious start to training camp when they failed their conditioning test.
Rookies Daylon Mack and Jaylon Ferguson, and veteran Michael Pierce were initially placed on the active/non-football injury or NFI list, which is reserved for players unable to practice for reasons unrelated to professional football.
However, all three have since passed their physicals and are available once training camp practice begins Thursday, July 25.
It’s likely that the players simply underestimated the rigors of the Ravens conditioning test, which is widely regarded as one of the toughest in the league, according to former players that have spent time with other teams.
Hardest conditioning test in the league! https://t.co/P2midBMT6k
— Mike Wallace (@Wallace17_daKid) July 18, 2019
The Ravens cannot afford to deal with a litany of injuries this training camp, especially among the offensive players who are learning a new system.
That said, the team already has two players on the physically unable to perform list — Alex Lewis (shoulder) and Patrick Mekari (back). Lewis underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and was not available for the spring workouts, so he will need to prove he can be healthy to make the final 53-man roster.
Perhaps most alarming is the absence of receiver and first-round pick Hollywood Brown, who remains on non-football injury list. Brown spent offseason recovering from Lisfranc foot surgery, but the Ravens were hopeful he would be ready for the start of camp.
There are still a few days remaining, but it appears Brown will be eased back into practice so he does not aggravate the injury. The Ravens are relying on a new element of speed for their offense and they expect Brown to play a key role in that game plan.
However, Brown has missed critical time working with quarterback Lamar Jackson and the rest of the offense so his progress will be something to watch when he does get back on the field.
It’s nearly impossible to get through an entire training camp fully healthy. The Ravens have dealt with several key losses over the years.
The team needs to keep its top playmakers healthy and able to contribute over the regular season. Coach John Harbaugh does a solid job giving the veterans days off and keeping some of the younger players relatively fresh, but injuries are inevitable.
No player, with the exception of the kickers, will be 100 percent healthy from training camp to the end of the season.
That’s the nature of the beast.
The Ravens don’t have the most deep and talented roster so they are going to at least have to stay healthy to stay in the playoff hunt. Last year, the team reported to training camp a few weeks early because they were playing in the Hall-of-Fame game in Canton, Ohio. This year, they are back to a normal schedule so there is less of a window to get injured in the preseason.
Jackson reported to camp early, a clear sign the offseason work has him inspired. Lewis’ injury raises some concerns because the Ravens are going to need OL depth with their focus on the power running game. The team also needs to keep Jackson upright so he can make plays.
The hope is Harbaugh can focus on what’s happening on the practice field at the Under Armour Performance Center as opposed to who is spending time in the training room.