Ravens president Dick Cass sees a light at the end of the tunnel.
While the Under Armour Performance Center remains closed, Cass is optimistic the team will be able to get back on the field when training camp is scheduled to begin.
“We believe by the time of training camp we will be able to test the players and coaches because we will be together a lot multiple times per week and we’ll be able to get results fairly quickly,” Cass said. “I’m more confident today than I was a month ago about the widespread availability of testing.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is still making life difficult for much of the world. While Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has allowed for the reopening of retail stores, shops, and religious facilities under their 50% capacity, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is keeping more restrictions in place.
This has created friction between his office and several business owners who have grown frustrated about keeping their doors shut.
The Ravens, conversely, are making the best out of the difficult situation.
The coaches have continued to meet with players virtually. While the veteran players have been adaptable to the new environment, many of the rookies could be challenged to quickly make adjustments once they get on the field for the first time.
Teams schedule rookie minicamps and OTAs to gradually get the young players acclimated to life in the NFL. Most of them won’t have that full luxury this season.
“We just have to deal with the hand that we’re given,” said rookie offensive lineman Ben Bredeson, who was drafted in the fourth round. “These are uncertain times, and everybody is in the same boat – social distancing, staying home, and just trying to find a way to get their work in any way they can.
“So, it’s going to be tough for everybody coming back, but I think we all know what we are supposed to be doing. All we can do is keep going with the plan and wait this thing out.”
Some of the young players are just sticking to a routine they developed at a big-time college program. It’s not the same as an NFL environment, but it keeps the players active and engaged so they’ll be as ready as possible when they report to the Under Armour Performance Center.
“I’ve just been working out in my gym back at home,” said Geno Stone, a seventh-round pick from Iowa. “I found a couple of places where I can work out and be by myself and not have too many people around me, so I’ve been doing all that. As for my role this year, I just hope I can make an impact wherever I can for the team to win no matter where it is – special teams, defensive backfield.
“My mindset – I want to be in the defensive backfield, but at the same time, I know where I have to start out: special teams. That’s where I started out in college, and I made a name for myself.”
As it stands, the 2020 regular season is scheduled to open Thursday, Sept. 10. However, there are still concerns with the coronavirus and the NFL has developed a contingency plan.
One idea has the regular-season beginning on Oct. 15 and concluding Feb. 28 with the Super Bowl. Another alternative is skipping the bye week for each team and canceling the Pro Bowl, which would also eliminate the off-week between the AFC and NFC championships and the Super Bowl.
At this point, the teams and the fans will just be thankful to play games amid this ongoing challenge.
The Ravens players and coaches are cautiously optimistic they will play at some point in 2020.
“It’s not something that people have had a lot of experience with, because it’s going to be new for everybody,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m very hopeful that we can find a way through faith and effort to do it better than the other guy and win games. So, that’s kind of what I’m thinking about every day.”