Baltimore Ravens tweak offseason conditioning program in effort to reduce injuries

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens are already implementing changes after an injury-filled season.

There has been more stretching during warm-ups and fewer reps in the workouts for players at the start of the team's offseason conditioning program this week. The Ravens are coming off a season in which a total of 25 players were placed on injured reserve.

"I think it means you can believe in the process more because you know that the coaches and the organization is trying the best to take care of us," Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard said Wednesday. "They are conscious of the injuries we've had. In my opinion, you can't do the same things over and over again and get a different result. You're just going to be insane."

Injuries were a major factor as the Ravens finished 8-9 -- the first time they've been last in the AFC North in coach John Harbaugh's 14 seasons. By the end of the season, Baltimore had eight starters on IR, including All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.

After the season, Harbaugh met with the performance staff for four hours. His message was not to overreact to the injuries but also not to minimize them, either.

The biggest change in the voluntary offseason program has been reducing the workload. Drills that were 10 to 12 reps are now eight to 10.

"Philosophically, the program still stands on its own merits, but you just make little tweaks," Ravens head strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders said. "We're going to say, 'OK, we don't know what these guys have been doing. Let's take a little step back and maybe spend a little more time in the evaluation process, add some other things to the program.'"

This is the first in-person offseason conditioning program after going virtual the past two springs because of the pandemic. Last summer, the Ravens endured a stretch in which five players, including three running backs, suffered season-ending injuries over 19 days.

Did not having a program last year contribute to the team's preseason injuries?

"You never know what contributed to what," Saunders said. "It certainly wasn't a plus."

Last month, Harbaugh said the Ravens will also adjust their practices during the offseason and training camp in an effort to reduce injuries.