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Players return to work at Ravens’ facility

OWINGS MILLS — Now that the NFL lockout has been lifted, a small group of Baltimore players have returned to work at Ravens headquarters in advance of the scheduled start of the offseason conditioning program Monday.

Veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason, cornerback Domonique Foxworth, defensive end Cory Redding and offensive tackle Ramon Harewood were at the Ravens’ training complex Friday morning.

Mason said he’s crossing his fingers that the lockout won’t resume. The NFL is appealing the injunction halting the lockout.

“I hope it is over for good,” Mason said. “It’s not weird being back. Honestly, if you look at it we didn’t miss that much time. Guys would be trickling in mid March to work. We haven’t missed much. If things stay status quo, we can stay on schedule.”

Foxworth, who’s on the NFL Players Association executive committee, declined to comment.

Veteran defensive end Cory Redding arrived first, shortly after 8 a.m.

“Did I make a wrong turn going down the street?” Redding joked. “It was a good reunion to see some of the guys in there. I went in and did a little cardio work just to keep the body in shape until Monday when everything gets started. That’s the official start of the offseason program.

“Right now, it’s the same status quo for me. I continue to do what I can do and keep myself ready for football. I have no say-so. I leave that up to the powers that be. I get the information I receive from ESPN, that’s pretty much it.”

Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood also said he’s glad to be back.

“I was a little anxious when my coach called me,” he said. “I’m happy to get this ball rolling again.”

Mason has been critical of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, calling him a joke in recent weeks. So Mason said he laughed when Goodell was booed by fans Thursday night during the first-round of the NFL draft.

“When you are a part of a work stoppage and the fans feel you were one of the main culprits in it and you haven’t tried to work it out, you’re going to get booed,” Mason said. “Probably some of the players would have got booed, too. You’re the commissioner, and you take on those responsibilities. When you walk up to that podium, you’re going to get booed. He got booed.

“I’m pretty sure he smiled and laughed. I don’t know if it affected him or not. He acted like it didn’t. I think people are starting to see what I saw. Hopefully, we can continue to be able to come into the building, continue to work out and football will be played because if anything else I think we’ve given the fans a lot of hope that come August, September we will be playing.”

Although he’s under contract, Mason is optimistic that free agency will begin soon for the sake of several other players. The NFL hasn’t announced yet when the league year will begin.

“It’s tricky,” Mason said. “No one really knows what’s going on as far as free agency and the league year and all that. That’s for the people with the PHDs and all these other degrees. They’re there to make these decisions and try to figure it out and hopefully free agency will start pretty soon. They’re a bunch of guys that are chomping at the bit or holding their breath right now. They want to be on their respective teams or sign somewhere else.”

Mason said it’s been hard to keep up with the latest developments in the court system regarding the labor battle.

“It changes like the wind,” he said. “One day you hear one thing and one day you hear another. You try not to pay attention to it until something very significant happens like it did the other day. That’s when a lot of players really tuned in. You want to make sure you know what’s going on.”

An organized team activity could take place in May.

“I’m sure guys will be trickling in here next week,” Mason said. “We’ll hit the ground running. There’s no walking. We’re trying to get this thing going quickly. You want to make sure you stay in condition because this is your job. You’re your own business. You have to take care of yourself.”