As John Harbaugh stepped to the microphone to begin today’s Monday afternoon press conference, he looked over the group of reporters in front of him and smiled.
“Haven’t seen you for a while,” Harbaugh said, “but that’s a good thing.”
What, you didn’t miss us, John?
Harbaugh and his team got back to work today after giving the players Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, and while guys left team headquarters last week not knowing their opponent for next weekend’s divisional round game, the Ravens now are aware of who they’ll face. The Houston Texans will be the ones coming to town, thanks to their 31-10 wild card win over the Bengals on Saturday.
According to Harbaugh, the Ravens are in very good health entering this week, as the bye week allowed a number of injured players to rest up.
“We look good,” Harbaugh said. “We anticipate everybody playing in the game. Jameel (McClain) and Brendon (Ayanbadejo) are working through their (leg) issues, but they should be good. We’ll see how they practice. Concussion guys (cornerback Jimmy Smith, safety Tom Zbikowski and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe) haven’t been cleared yet, but we anticipate them being cleared tomorrow.”
Harbaugh also said that wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who is coming off knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, “should be 100 percent” on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh emphatically said that linebacker Ray Lewis, who missed four games during the regular season with a sprained toe, is completely healthy.
“He’s 100 percent,” Harbaugh said. “Any report to the contrary is absolutely untrue. His toe is 100 percent. Has been for a couple weeks.”
A question a lot of fans might wonder is how much the time off last week actually benefited the players. Do they really feel that much better physically and mentally than they would if they had to play last weekend? Apparently so.
“(I feel) awesome,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “I was just talking to some of my coaches and how good I feel. Lost a few pounds, working real hard and really just reflecting on myself and watching how I play, things I can correct from the last game to this game, meaning the Houston game.”
“Just to be able to take a step back and watch and take it all in ... you become a fan, and it just gets you that much more excited to get back to work today,” center Matt Birk said.
Over the weekend, the players and coaches got to do something they rarely get a chance to: watch NFL games from the comfort of their living rooms. Obviously, the most talked-about wild card contest was yesterday’s Broncos-Steelers game, which ended in dramatic fashion on Tim Tebow’s 80-yard overtime TD pass to Demaryius Thomas.
How did the Ravens react to that finish?
“Wow! Just like everybody else,” Harbaugh said with a laugh. “I was trying to figure out what coverage they wanted to be in, but hey, that’s football. That’s what makes the NFL great, games like that.”
“I was there sitting on the couch trying to be all calm and not trying to not get emotionally attached to the game, but ... I ain’t gonna lie, I did jump off my couch,” said Redding.