By Peter King
Pro Football Writers of America
NEW ORLEANS—Already on a road trip for Super Bowl XLVII, the Baltimore Ravens took another one Thursday, splitting their second day of full-scale workouts for their game against San Francisco between their NFL-assigned Tulane University FieldTurf practice field and the grass fields at the New Orleans Saints facility in nearby Metairie.
After several players told Ravens officials Wednesday night they’d prefer to practice on grass, the Ravens early Thursday morning asked the league if it could be worked out that they practice at the Saints’ facility. This was potentially awkward, because the 49ers practiced at the same facility, and obviously neither team wanted the other to be able to see their practice sessions. So the Ravens agreed to dress at Tulane’s baseball facility–site of their full Wednesday practice, with a makeshift 80-yard field stretching across the artificial-turf outfield–and hold their 30-minute walk-through practice there. Then the players and coaches boarded five buses for the eight-mile trip from Tulane to the Saints’ facility not far from New Orleans International Airport. There, under heightened security, the Ravens completed their on-field work for the day with a one-hour, 25-minute practice coach John Harbaugh called “a very normal, late-season Thursday practice.”
“Just like in high school,” one player said of the commute, “only the buses are nicer.”
All 53 players on the Ravens’ active roster practiced under sunny skies, and none of the players was limited.
“I think our players dealt with it great,” said Harbaugh, who walked off the field afterward with linebacker Ray Lewis. “As Ray just said to me, ‘We work.’ That’s what we do. Our guys don’t flinch at things like this.”
Lewis, in fact, helped carry one of the Gatorade coolers from the bus to the practice field as the team disembarked. And the players seemed happier working on the grass, particularly this late in the season when six months of practice and game wear-and-tear makes the players crave a grass field.
After a special-teams period to start practice, the specialists–kicker Justin Tucker, punter Sam Koch and snapper Morgan Cox–adjourned to the Saints’ indoor practice field for their work. On the field, the Ravens regular units and scout teams went through another 60 minutes of work before finishing, sereneded by an eclectic mix of music, from the hard rock of AC/DC to the rap of Soulja Boy and Chief Keef to the metal of Metallica.
After Harbaugh spoke to the team, veteran Terrell Suggs addressed the players for about two minutes.
John Harbaugh and his brother Jim, the 49ers coach, will hold a joint press conference Friday morning at the media center here, their last press obligation of the week. The Ravens will hold their final full practice of the week Friday afternoon, again at the Saints’ facility, before having a normal light Saturday workout prior to Sunday’s game.
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Dannell Ellerbe (toe/back), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Abert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (knee/thigh), TE Dennis Pitta (thigh), WR David Reed (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/biceps)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), LB Aldon Smith (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder), CB Tarell Brown (shoulder), TE Garrett Celek (foot), S Dashon Goldson (foot), RB Frank Gore (shoulder/ankle), LB Clark Haggans (shoulder), G Mike Iupati (shoulder), RB LaMichael James (finger), RB Bruce Miller (shoulder), DT Justin Smith (elbow/triceps), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)