Friday, August 8, 2014
Ravens, 49ers practices could get heated
By Jamison Hensley
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Asked about the upcoming joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith talked about wearing his Super Bowl ring.
Smith was joking, of course. OK, maybe half joking.
Starting on Saturday, training camp takes an interesting twist for three days as the two Super Bowl teams from 2012 will share the same practice fields as well as the same facility. While the Ravens and 49ers respect each other, these are two spirited teams that are loaded with strong personalities.
If the preseason opener is any indication, the joint practices for "Camp Harbaugh" could get heated. Smith made no friends in the first quarter, when he shoved 49ers wide receiver Stevie Johnson out of bounds on what could have been flagged for a late hit. And Ravens kicker Justin Tucker took a vicious stiff arm to the facemask from Chuck Jacobs on a kickoff return.
Coaches John Harbaugh and Jim Harbaugh want intense practices so they can properly evaluate their players. They just don't want this to turn into an episode of "WWE SmackDown."
"We fight with our own teammates, so it should be interesting to see how it goes with different team," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "But I think, by the end of the day, it'll be fun."
Moving a second team into the Ravens' headquarters wasn't as difficult as some might think. The 49ers are going to work out of the Ravens' indoor field house, where the Ravens have set up a locker room, training room, equipment room as well as a small lounge area.
Although there is no bad weather in the forecast, there is still 70 yards in the field house that can be used for practice if the teams were forced to work inside. The 49ers will hold team meetings in the Ravens' indoor basketball and racquetball courts.
"Were going to make it work and make it a good experience for both teams," said Bob Eller, the Ravens' vice president of operations.
The teams will share a gym, showers and even dining space. The Ravens doubled their capacity in the eating area by using a courtyard area that is now tented and air-conditioned.
“Hold on, we share a cafeteria, too?,” Smith asked. “I don’t know how [joint practices] work. I’ve seen it on TV. But every time I’ve seen it on TV there’s been nothing but fights.”
While joint practices are becoming increasingly popular in the NFL, this is the first time the Ravens have done this in their 19-year history. Trust is a big factor when you put two teams on the same field for multiple days, and it obviously helps that the two head coaches are siblings.
The Ravens are expected to practice at the 49ers' facility either next year or in 2016.
"[The 49ers are] coming all the way across the country, and we want to be good hosts and make the most of it," John Harbaugh said.
Asked whether a certain head coach will make it known if something goes wrong, John Harbaugh said, "I might hear about it, yes.”