Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce might want to re-evaluate his offseason diet and workout regimen.
After skipping OTAs, Pierce got kicked out of Ravens minicamp Tuesday, the first day of practice, for showing up so egregiously out of shape that coach John Harbaugh said he feared for Pierce’s health.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Pierce failed to make it even through the stretching portion of the workout before his lack of conditioning caught up with him.
In addition, he looked far heavier than his listed playing weight of 340 pounds, although no reports of his having stepped on a scale exist to confirm or debunk the notion that he has ballooned in size during the offseason.
“He’s not ready to practice from a safety standpoint and for his own health,” Harbaugh said. “We recognize that and pulled him off.”
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) June 11, 2019
Pierce was an undrafted rookie out of Samford in 2016, but this year he received a second-round tender offer, making him from a salary cap point of view functionally equivalent to a second-round pick in his team option year, a value of $3 million.
He had a breakout season in 2018, with Pro Football Focus saying he had reached “elite status” and appeared to be “just getting started.”
“Pierce’s progression from Southern Conference standout to upper-echelon interior defender in the NFL is atypical — but representative of a player who has put in the time to master his craft,” PFF’s Ben Cooper wrote.
But Pierce’s removal from practice Tuesday sure doesn’t reflect that.
Lineman is not a position where you have to look like a fashion model. A bit of bulk is an asset in the trench warfare that is an NFL line-of-scrimmage battle on every down. Pierce’s teammate, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, doesn’t exactly look like Brad Pitt at 315 pounds, but he at least makes it through workouts without begging for a break:
When the NFL’s best left tackles are being discussed, @IamtheGuru79 wants the conversation to start with him.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) June 11, 2019
Stanley, for what it’s worth, makes only around $3 million himself.
Harbaugh said of Pierce, “He’s not ready for this practice yet. I think you could probably tell.”
The 26-year-old tackle has about five or six weeks to get ready before training camp begins in earnest in mid-July, and less than three months before the regular season begins.
Pierce will become an unrestricted free agent after this season, so we will learn a lot about his character and his motivation if he can’t even stay in shape during his contract year when he’s supposed to be auditioning for a big payout on the open market.
The Sun, in addition to pointing out that Stanley added bulk but, as we have seen, still retains his mobility, also mentioned that Harbaugh sent a strong message to the rest of the team about conditioning by dismissing Pierce.
The Ravens can only hope Pierce himself will take the message to heart and get back into shape.
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