Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce's 2019 season isn't off to an ideal start.
According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, Pierce was taken off the field for a lack of conditioning during Tuesday's mandatory minicamp. It was the first offseason practice he attended, and Hensley noted he "looked much heavier than his listed playing weight of 340 pounds."
Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun captured pictures of Pierce's brief day:
"He's not ready to practice from a safety standpoint and for his own health," head coach John Harbaugh said, per Hensley. "We recognize that and pulled him off."
That Pierce arrived out of shape is a surprise considering how important the 2019 campaign is for his contract status.
He signed with the Ravens as an undrafted rookie out of Samford in 2016 and can become an unrestricted free agent following the upcoming season. He figures to sign a formidable contract if he continues to play as he has early in his career, putting the onus on an impressive performance in 2019.
Pierce appeared in 14 games last season after playing all 16 in each of his first two years in the league. He posted a career-best 49 tackles in 2017 and then helped lead the Ravens to the playoffs in 2018 with 32 tackles, one fumble recovery and one pass deflection.
Baltimore's defense led the league in total yards allowed last year, and his ability to occupy multiple blockers along the defensive front and clear paths for his teammates was one reason why.