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NFL players react to Obama's opinions on football

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NFL players react to Obama's opinions on football

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs respects and understands President Barack Obama's opinion about the dangers of football - and hesitation about having a child play.

The hard-hitting 2011 Defensive Player of the Year also says that no matter how violent the sport, his 4-year-old son will be allowed to take it up if he wants.

``It would have to be his choice,'' Suggs said Monday. ``Football isn't for everybody. If my son ... came to me and said, `Dad, I want to play football,' then I would let him play.''

The president's thoughts about the future of the NFL - and whether he'd let a son play football - were a main topic of conversation as Super Bowl week got under way. So much so that when San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone stepped away from his interview session, he asked someone, ``What's up with all this Obama (stuff)?''

Here's what's up: In an interview with The New Republic, the newly inaugurated president expressed what many other parents might be thinking following new studies about concussions and recent suicides by former NFL players.

``I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football,'' Obama said.

``I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence,'' he added. ``In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.''

Ravens safety Ed Reed, for one, agreed with the sentiment.

``I am with Obama,'' Reed said. ``I have a son. I am not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it ... I can't make decisions for him. All I can do is say, `Son, I played it so you don't have to.'''

Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection in his 11 NFL seasons, thinks there needs to be improvements within the league.

``We've got some leaks in it that need to be worked out,'' Reed said. ``Every medical training room should be upgraded; training rooms can be a lot better.''

And as he noted: ``When you've got the president talking about it, you got something.''

Reed isn't sure everyone is being trained properly or cared for adequately.

``I felt like I played the game as safe as possible,'' he said. ``I even tell the guys that they have to take care of their bodies, take care of themselves. If you take care of that, it will take care of you.''

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health announced recently that Junior Seau - the star linebacker who died of a self-inflicted gunshot last year - had a degenerative brain disease often linked to repeated blows to the head.

Seau is one of several dozen football players who were found to have chronic traumatic ecephalopathy, or CTE.

The NFL is facing lawsuits brought by thousands of former players who say the league withheld information on the harmful effects of concussions.

Players who were asked Monday about Obama's comments tended to side with Ravens center Matt Birk, who did not hesitate before saying: ``I have three sons, and once they get to a certain age, if they want to play football, I would let them.''

San Francisco's Boone doesn't see how there is a lot of room for the game itself to change.

``There's going to be injuries and there's going to be problems,'' Boone said, ``but we're working on trying to prevent them.''

His coach, Jim Harbaugh, responded to the president's remarks in a lighter vein. Harbaugh, who played quarterback in the NFL for 14 seasons, mentioned his own child.

``Well, I have a 4-month-old - almost, soon-to-be 5-month-old - son, Jack Harbaugh, and if President Obama feels that way, then (there will) be a little less competition for Jack Harbaugh when he gets older,'' San Francisco's coach said with a chuckle. ``That's the first thing that jumps into my mind, if other parents are thinking that way.''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Ravens cancel Saturday's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium

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USA Today Sports

Ravens cancel Saturday's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium

The Baltimore Ravens cancelled Saturday night's free open practice at M&T Bank Stadium due to a forecast that calls for heavy rain and inclement weather.

There is no official word from the team on whether this practice will be resheduled, but it seems like Sunday may be an option, even though there's rain in the forecast then too.

Ravens fans who were looking to see first-round draft pick and potential future starting quarterback Lamar Jackson will have to wait for another day. His presence at training camp, an inevitable competition with the incumbent, Joe Flacco, and potential two-quarterback packages involving both of them are set to be some of the biggest storylines of Ravens camp this summer.

As a Heisman Trophy winner, Jackson was one of the most dynamic players in college football during his time at Louisville. If he can replicate that kind of performance in the NFL, he will be at plenty more training camp sessions for Ravens fans to watch.

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After breakout 2017 season, Ravens running back Alex Collins isn't getting too comfortable

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After breakout 2017 season, Ravens running back Alex Collins isn't getting too comfortable

This time last year, running back Alex Collins wasn't a part of the Baltimore Ravens.

After being released by the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the 2017 preseason, the Ravens placed the 23-year-old on their practice squad, and by Week 2, Collins was already making plays.

As the season progressed, Collins found himself as the Ravens' top running back. He finished 2017 as the team's leading rusher with 973 yards while Javorius "Buck" Allen followed behind him with 591 yards.

If the 2018 NFL season began today, Collins would likely be the Ravens' starter, which is quite ironic considering the fate of his 2017 preseason.

"I always go back to where I started and where I am now, and I use that as my motivation," Collins said after Thursday's training camp practice.

"No matter the day, no matter how tired I am, I think to myself, at this time last year, I didn’t know my position, where I was, where I’d end up. So just having that security behind it is definitely my motivation to keep it this way and keep pushing forward and keep trying to get better instead of being complacent.”

Over the course of 15 games, Collins proved he had the strength and speed to make an impact on the team after Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury on the first drive of the Ravens' Week 1 game and Kenneth Dixon sat out the entire season with a torn meniscus. 

While job security is something we all strive for, Collins isn't getting too comfortable with the hierarchy. 

“I don’t want to say necessarily ‘comfortable,’ because when I use that word, it makes me feel like I’m too relaxed and lackadaisical," Collins said.

"I’m more focused. I don’t want to get comfortable. I don’t want the team or our group to get comfortable, because we just want to get better every day. So, in the position I am, it’s a great feeling, but I’m always pushing myself to be better.”

While Collins has set personal goals for himself – like a 1,000-yard season – he is equally as focused on making the Ravens backfield one of the best groups in the National Football League. 

“I expect that," Collins said on being the Ravens' starter.

"I would hope that all the other running backs expect [to be the starter] as well, and that’s what kind of drives our group – when we all know that we have that capability to be the No. 1 guy, and we’re out competing and push each other and try to be the best. No matter who’s out there during the game, you’ll see a productive play out of that person. So, I have that mindset. I want to be the guy. I have that fire in me, and I hope [that is] as well as the other running backs, as I encouraged them as well.”

Collins noted that he's coming into training camp a bit heavier. He added five pounds to his 200-pound frame "just to see how that feels," but is still maintaining the stamina and strength he's always had. 

Collins – who was one of several veterans released from practice early as the team begins to adjust their way into the extended preseason – finished his media availability with a friendly warning to fantasy football owners: "Draft me now before it’s too late, guys."

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