A typical week for the Ravens involves meetings on Monday, a day off Tuesday, practice and prep Wednesday through Friday and a game on Sunday.
The next two weeks will be anything but typical. With all the hype, attention and pageantry, the Super Bowl is far different from any normal game, and so is the preparation, especially because the game won’t be played until Feb. 3.
Coach John Harbaugh said keeping things as close to regular as possible could help counter that.
“Well, as far as the schedule goes, we will be preparing this week as if we are playing the game this week. So that’s how you do it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll be going to work right away. The destination is a three-and-a-half to four-hour window two weeks from (Sunday) evening, but we’ll have to get as far down the road in our preparation this week as we possibly can, and we’ll try to take advantage of every minute we possibly can to get ready to play this team.
“This team that we are going to play is a great football team. They are extremely well-coached, I’d have to say. They look somewhat familiar in a lot of ways.”
Although this is the first time Harbaugh will go through Super Bowl prep as a head coach, he experienced it as the Philadelphia Eagles special teams coordinator at the end of the 2004 season.
That ensures it won’t be all new to Harbaugh.
“I have a book that we had with the order of the schedules and everything. I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, though,” he said. “The experience of having been there and understanding kind of how it works, having been down there, gone through the process, understanding the schedule is different, and that you adjust to it and that it will be a Super Bowl week schedule and that’s OK. The length of the game is different - the pregame, halftime and all those things are different than a regular game. Just to try to prepare our guys for that.
“We’ve had a few guys who have a played in a Super Bowl, so they can share that, as well. We have a few coaches that have won a few Super Bowls along with a couple of players. It’s all good.”
As of now, only a small part of the Ravens’ prep will be getting injured players healthy. Harbaugh said the team escaped Sunday’s AFC championship win fairly unscathed with nothing major.
“That should clear that up for the next two weeks,” he said. “We’re in good shape.”
But rest over the next week will be critical leading up to the seven days before the winner-take-all last game of the season.
“We’re recharging. We got today; we’re chilling today. We’re going to, obviously, chill tomorrow,” safety Bernard Pollard said Monday. “We are going to see what’s happening on Wednesday, but we have to roll. We have to get going. Coach is going to do a good job, as far as in practice, kind of lightening things up or whatever. But when it’s all said and done, we are facing a (great) team; they’re coming to kill. We have to be ready to play.
“(The 49ers) are an outstanding team. They know how to win. Their coach (Jim Harbaugh), obviously, he knows his brother. We have to be ready to go. We are getting our rest in the next 72 hours or whatever it is. We are going to get some rest, but we have to be ready, like I said. If we want to play our best football, our preparation the rest of this week and next week has to be outstanding if we want to show up on Super Bowl Sunday.”
Said quarterback Joe Flacco: “A little bit of rest here will get them even better and even more revved up to go.”
The week before the Super Bowl will have some celebration and fun tied in, but the Ravens are prepared for business.
“It will be work, it really will be work. We’ve got too much work to do,” Harbaugh said. “We’re in-season. This is the biggest game of the year. This is the best two weeks of the NFL football season. It’s the weeks that you work for. The thing I am so happy about is our guys, we get to be together. It’s such a great moment because we get to be together for two more weeks with this football team.
“This group will never be together again as that group. They will never be the same. That’s the way it is with every team. So to extend that now for two weeks into the ultimate game is really the ultimate opportunity, and we’re going to do everything we can to make the most of it.”