Random bye week notes and musings

We’re all well aware that Andrew Luck was the top NFL prospect to suit up during yesterday’s bowl games, but count me among those who were equally (if not more so) impressed with Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon last night.

That kid looks poised to dominate at the next level and he’ll make some NFL quarterback very happy on draft day. If I’m the Ravens, I’m crossing my fingers Blackmon isn’t available when the Browns are on the clock with the No. 4 overall pick in April’s draft.

Having Mike Wallace, A.J. Green and Blackmon in the same division would not exactly be pleasant for Baltimore’s cornerbacks.

Speaking of wide receivers, here’s an interesting stat courtesy of Football Outsiders: The Ravens benefited from 280 yards on opponent pass interference penalties this season, which was the highest total in the NFL.

Think they force even half that total if rookie Torrey Smith isn’t on the roster?

I mentioned yesterday that the Ravens primarily will use their bye week to let a long list of banged-up players get healthy and let their various injuries subside. But that’s not all John Harbaugh’s team hopes to accomplish this week.

Harbaugh said the Ravens have three additional goals during the bye:

* Strength and conditioning: Players will spend time in the weight room and using the time off to improve their conditioning heading into the postseason.

* Self-studying: The coaches will look back on film and find areas where the Ravens can improve going forward, and then those areas will be worked on in practice Wednesday and Thursday.

* Developing young players: With a number of the veterans getting time off in practice this week, the Ravens will allow some of their less experienced guys (like offensive tackle Jah Reid, for example) to get extra reps over the next few days.

The team will have normal practice days Wednesday and Thursday, and then the players will get off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Everyone will reconvene Monday to begin preparations for the divisional round game next Sunday.

There’s one additional thing that came out of conversations both with Harbaugh and a couple team employees yesterday that I wanted to quickly make mention of.

When the Ravens break their team huddle before and after games and practices, they usually collectively shout something like Ravens!” or “Team!” On Sunday, both prior to and following the Ravens clinching the division with a win over the Bengals, they instead broke the team huddle by yelling “Baltimore!”.

The rationale there was that safety Ed Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis (who were the ones to break the huddle) wanted players and coaches to feel like their division title wasn’t just for them, but for the fans and the city of Baltimore, as well.

That’s a cool gesture, if you ask me.

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