Ben Cleveland is the latest victim of the Ravens’ brutal conditioning test

Ravens, Ben Cleveland (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Ravens, Ben Cleveland (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens perennially set a high standard of fitness during the offseason, and it’s a standard that not all players meet.

Every NFL team has its own way of keeping players in shape, and for the Ravens, that means running an absolutely brutal 900-yard gauntlet.

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote about the test a few years back and described it as the following:

"“Players must run a total of 900 yards in six legs. Each set consists of 25 yards out and back three times. They must finish that heat of 150 yards under a designated time… If you go over that time in any of the six legs, you flunk the test and have to take it over.”"

Harbaugh apparently chose this test because it was the most comparable to real-world actions in football, challenging players’ speed, explosion, and endurance.

Described by one former running back as “pure death,” the Ravens’ conditioning test has seen even the best players stumble, and offensive lineman Ben Cleveland appears to be the most recent Raven to fail the test.

Ben Cleveland failed the Ravens’ notoriously difficult conditioning test

Cleveland may have more to prove than others at training camp given the wide-open left guard position battle, and even something as seemingly small as passing a fitness test could endanger his chances of winning a starting role.

Drafted in the third round of 2021, Cleveland started four games and played in 12 total last season, and he has a good shot at breaking into the starting lineup this season.

His direct competition will likely be Ben Powers and Tyre Phillips, and as a last resort, versatile lineman Patrick Mekari could also fill in for snaps on the left side.

The Ravens’ offensive line carries quite a bit of intrigue with both new and familiar faces entering the fold — left tackle Ronnie Stanley will hopefully enjoy a full recovery while 2022 first-rounder Tyler Linderbaum will need to prove his consistency at center.

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Keep an eye on that left guard position battle, though. Ben Cleveland may have faltered in the conditioning test but he still has his eyes on the prize.