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NFL continues to mull Ray Rice discipline as Ravens move ahead

Can the Ravens' Bernard Pierce take over as the team's top running back in anticipation of the presumed absence of Ray Rice? (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Can the Ravens’ Bernard Pierce take over as the team’s top running back in anticipation of the presumed absence of Ray Rice? (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The Baltimore Ravens enter training camp with a giant question hanging over them: Just what length of punishment will the NFL give running back Ray Rice after an offseason assault incident involving his now-wife?

Coach John Harbaugh told reporters Tuesday that the team’s approach is “business as usual until” the NFL announces its decision. He did, though, admit that he hopes it comes by the middle of next month. “We’re installing [the offense and defense] for the first six days [of training camp] and work situations through the first two preseason games,” Harbaugh said (via the Baltimore Sun). “Once we get past the second preseason game [Aug. 16], then we’ll need to know. Whenever they’re ready to let us know, we’ll be ready to hear it.”

The team is likely to hear that it will be without Rice for several games after he allegedly knocked his then-fiancee unconscious. In May, he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program to avoid trial on aggravated assault charges and he met with Commissioner Roger Goodell in June. Harbaugh seemed content to wait for word from the league.

“It’s not for me to say. It’s not my decision to make or any of us here. It’s in other people’s hands,” Harbaugh said. “I’m sure there are a lot of complications in making those kind of decisions. There are many sides to every story. There are a lot of factors. There are other people involved; there are other disciplinary situations involved around the league.

“They have to be weighed in and taken in context, and they’re going to have to sort through that to be fair about the whole thing. I know the league is very judicious about that. I think they work really hard to do the right thing. I don’t think they worry about public opinion too much. I think they want to do the right thing by the people involved and see where it goes.”

Bernard Pierce, who underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason, and Justin Forsett, a free-agent who played for offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak in Houston two years ago, are likely to fill in for Rice.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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