As we talked about just recently, the Baltimore Ravens have one of the most stringent conditioning tests in all of the NFL, which means it’s not uncommon to see them place a number of players on the Non-Football Injury List or the Active Physically Unable to Perform List at the start of training camp for the failure to pass it.
Five rookies, including the injured first-round pick Marquise Brown, were unable to pass the conditioning test and thus were placed on one of the two respective lists. Veterans reported later, and so a couple of others were added to these lists, with two notables.
The first is defensive lineman Michael Pierce. A fourth-year player as a former college free agent who skipped the voluntary portions of the offseason, he was removed from the field, twice, during mandatory minicamp due to a dissatisfaction by the team with his conditioning.
He had several weeks to get himself into shape, knowing already that the team was not happy with where he was, and he failed to use that time wisely, evidently. He did not, to the best of my knowledge, have any difficulty passing the test in each of his first three seasons with the team, so there is no excuse for him not knowing what to expect.
Following the completion of minicamp, Pierce took responsibility for his lapsed conditioning—which of course, is the only thing one can do, as though it’s anybody else’s fault—saying that he “mismanaged my running a little bit”, focusing too much, instead, on lifting.
“At the end of the day, you expect a team leader to come back in better shape than I did”, he went on. “That’s a mistake on my behalf I have to correct. I don’t want to get into much more than that”. He failed to correct it, but of course he can always pass the conditioning test on his next opportunity.
Another veteran player joining him on one of this lists, in this case the Active PUP, is Alex Lewis, who came out strong during his rookie season a few years back to claim the starting left guard position, but has since dealt with a number of different injuries.
He missed all of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury after sitting out the final six games of his rookie season because of a severe ankle sprain. Last year, he suffered a potentially significant neck injury in the middle of the season but only missed two games directly from it. He ultimately played in 10 games.
He underwent shoulder surgery back in January and has not yet been on the practice field for the Ravens this offseason. Because of his ongoing health issues, it’s unclear just how much he will be regarded as part of the competition for the starting job. Jermaine Eluemenor has been the primary left guard with the first-team offense so far this year.