Thursday, April 18, 2024

Harewood’s pro career on line


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As millions?of eager American sports fanatics prepare for a new professional football season, Ramon Harewood, a graduate of Queen’s College, has something to prove to people in Baltimore and the rest of America.
It is that he has what it takes to play American-style football at its highest level.
Just as important, he wants to show that the former Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, didn’t make a mistake when they selected him in the sixth round of the National Football League (NFL) draft in 2010 and made him the first Barbadian to achieved that feat.
“Right now my main focus is just to get better every day,” the Bajan told a reporter in Baltimore recently.
The problem for the Ravens and Harewood is simple: He hasn’t been fit enough to play in a game that matters in the last two years when he wasn’t an active player in the regular season.
In the 2010 season, he underwent knee surgery and couldn’t play, while last year he suffered torn ankle ligaments and missed the entire season.
In both seasons, Harewood was placed on the Ravens’ injured reserve squad, an indication the team hadn’t given up on him.
But now that 2012 pre-season games have started, Harewood, who is in the final year of a three-year contract, must demonstrate he can be an effective offensive lineman, who plays as either left or right tackle. In short, he has to fight for a spot on the roster or face being cut from the team altogether.
Little wonder, then, that Harewood, who is in a position to make millions of dollars every year in a multi-billion dollar sport, is at the centre of intense speculation, especially across Maryland and other states where Baltimore has a strong fan base.
Essentially, people want to know if he is going to be unlucky again and sustain another season-ending injury.
An imposing figure at six feet, six inches and weighing 340 pounds, Harewood’s selection two years ago came as something of a surprise to Baltimore fans for two reasons.
First, he was a young man who didn’t grow up playing football. Instead, his sports background in Barbados consisted of being on the cricket pitch and competing for Barbados in rugby, track and field and volleyball.
Second, he was drafted from Morehouse College, one of America’s top four-year colleges, which is more noted for its outstanding academic record than its prowess on the football field.
Harewood readily acknowledged that although he was drafted two years ago he has quite a lot to learn about the professional game.
“I have pretty good knowledge now of what we’re doing,” he said recently. “It’s becoming a lot easier, but mentally, I still have a little way to go.
“Most of the time when you watch film, you go over the basic scheme,” he added. “But you make adjustments on the field. So, I know the basic schemes, but in terms of all the adjustments, I wasn’t really focused in on that . . . .
“The mental part of not feeling like you’re on the team –  it’s like a block almost. It only lets you do so much.”
Right now, the main goal of the player, who won a bronze medal for Barbados in the 2003 CARIFTA?Games in Trinidad and Tobago, is to make the 53-member Ravens roster of players for the 2012-13 season.

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