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Ravens moving main practice to grass field

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Ravens moving main practice to grass field

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Unhappy with the hard artificial turf at Tulane University's baseball field, the Baltimore Ravens finished practice Thursday on the grass field at the Saints' facility instead.

The San Francisco 49ers, their opponent in Sunday's Super Bowl, already are training at the Saints' complex in nearby Metairie.

The Ravens asked the league early Thursday if they could work out at the Saints' facility. In order for both teams to practice at different times there, the Ravens agreed to dress at Tulane's baseball facility and hold their 30-minute walk-through there.

Then the players and coaches boarded five buses for the 8-mile trip from Tulane to the Saints' facility, not far from New Orleans International Airport. There, under heightened security, the Ravens completed their on-field work for the day with a 1-hour, 25-minute practice coach John Harbaugh called ``a very normal, late-season Thursday practice.''

All 53 players on the Ravens' active roster practiced under sunny skies, and none of the players was limited.

``I think our players dealt with it great,'' said Harbaugh, who walked off the field afterward with linebacker Ray Lewis. ``As Ray just said to me, `We work.' That's what we do. Our guys don't flinch at things like this.''

Because Tulane has broken ground on a new football stadium, the AFC champions were forced to practice in the outfield of the baseball facility Wednesday.

``It's a baseball field, it's really tight, and when you stop and start, you feel it,'' Lewis said. ``It's especially tough for the older guys. I know the other players, on that hard surface, they feel it.

``I don't think (the NFL) thought it would be a problem. The last thing you want is anything that makes your players ache. You want to do the opposite.''

As part of the preparation at Tulane, the baseball field was tested to measure the hardness of the surface. The readings were within the acceptable range for NFL fields, but the Ravens weren't comfortable.

They also were working on a makeshift 80-yard field, although another area was available for the kickers.

And they had no indoor field to work on as the 49ers did. The Ravens practiced in wind gusts up to 24 mph on Wednesday.

Tulane has begun tearing down the regular practice field, where the new stadium will go. While Super Bowl planning has been under way for three years, Tulane's construction timeline was uncertain as the school cleared bureaucratic hurdles until recently.

Both Super Bowl teams have worked out at the same venue before.

In 2004 in Houston, the Panthers and Patriots both used the Texans' training facility.

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Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

The NFL announced today that tight end Darren Waller of the Baltimore Ravens would be suspended for a year or longer for his second violation of the substance abuse policy.

Waller was a 2015 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech who served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for a substance abuse violation. After returning from his suspension last year, he posted 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.

After his 2016 violation, he was quoted as saying [via Ravens.com]:

“There were other personal issues, and [marijuana] was the one thing I always turned to,” Waller said. “It was just about finding more positive outlets for me to do, like talking to people about it and things like that. I’m definitely at a better place with that now.”

Unfortunately for the Ravens, he will miss the 2017 season and potentially longer after the latest violation. It leaves the Ravens down two tight ends from last year after Dennis Pitta was released earlier this month after re-injuring his hip.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr considering coming out of retirement

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Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.

Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.

He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.

Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.

During his press conference, Orr said this,

"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.

Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.

NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.

"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare – .01 percent of the people have what I have – but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."

The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished. 

MORE RAVENS: 2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy. 

When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.

Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away. 

Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.