Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after Monday’s training camp practice that he was “not at liberty” to share his opinion on the NFL suspending Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct.
“That’s for the league to decide,” Harbaugh said.
Watson, who was traded from the Houston Texans to the Browns in March, has been accused by two dozen women in Texas of sexual misconduct during massage treatments, and he recently settled 23 of 24 civil lawsuits. In a 15-page report, disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, a former federal judge, said the NFL recommended Watson be suspended for the entire 2022 season. Robinson said was behavior “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.”
The league has until Thursday at 9 a.m. to file a written appeal. The NFL Players Association released a statement on Sunday night saying they stand for Robinson’s ruling and hope the league does the same.
Harbaugh, meanwhile, praised the Ravens’ zero-tolerance rule for domestic abuse allegations, which was put into place after former running back Ray Rice was arrested and charged for assaulting his then-fiancée in 2014.
“We stayed away from that particular situation when we drafted players and signed free agents,” said Harbaugh. “That’s [owner] Steve [Bisciotti’s’] decision, and I’m glad we have that policy.”
In 2018, however, the Ravens kept cornerback Jimmy Smith after he was suspended four games after the NFL found evidence of “threatening and emotionally abusive behaviors” toward a former girlfriend that “showed a pattern of improper conduct.”
If Watson’s suspension stands, he won’t play until the Browns’ Week 7 matchup against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Oct. 23.
Ravens second-year left guard Ben Cleveland made his first appearance at training camp on Monday. The 2021 third-round pick missed the team’s four practices last week after being placed on the nonfootball injury list while continuing to fail the team’s conditioning test.
“He passed it this morning,” Harbaugh said. “He did leg lifts then he practiced today in the heat. He will sleep well tonight.”
The missed time might prove costly for Cleveland. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Ben Powers is currently in the lead for the job, while Cleveland and Tyre Phillips remain in the mix to start at left guard.
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Cleveland’s return coincided with a key absence at tackle, however. Ja’Wuan James did not participate in the team’s first padded practice on Monday due to a “nagging” injury, Harbaugh said.
James has only played in three games since 2019, as he voluntarily opted out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns then tore his Achilles in May 2021 before signing a two-year deal with the Ravens.
Harbaugh said James has moved well during practice and is learning to adjust to playing left tackle.
Wide receiver Devin Duvernay did not practice after suffering a thigh bruise from colliding with safety Chuck Clark on a sideline throw in an 11-on-11 period during Saturday night’s open practice at M&T Bank Stadium. Harbaugh said Duvernay’s injury was not serious.
Even though All-Pro offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley has been at training camp signing autographs and interacting with teammates, Harbaugh said it’s too soon to speculate when he will return to the field.
“It’s not going to be immediate, but he’s feeling good and looks good,” said Harbaugh.
Stanley is among six players on the team’s physically-unable-to-perform list, as he continues to work back from a left ankle injury he first suffered in November 2020, less than a week after he signed a five-year extension worth $112.9 million. He played last year’s season opener before undergoing another surgery on the ankle and missing the remainder of the season.