Before “The Turk” makes his first rounds during summer camp to trim rosters from 90 to 75, the Under Armour Performance Center at One Winning Drive can get pretty crowded.
More players, more assistants to the coaching staff, more interns and more media makes Baltimore Ravens headquarters a pretty crowded place. Even the locker rooms are equipped with temporary lockers leaving it with the appearance of a sporting goods store under renovation.
On Saturday afternoon The Castle that Steve Bisciotti built hosted more king’s horses and more king’s men than ever before. And it had the potential to be chaotic.
Yet somehow, the brothers Harbaugh, the Harbros, and the very capable staff of the Ravens made it all work.
To set the scene, when you arrive at Bisciotti’s backyard there are two full-length football fields side-by-side running north and south. To the left was the field assigned to the 49ers, adorned with their logo in both end zones. Their 90 players and coaches worked there and when the 49ers offense took on the Ravens defense, that is the field they used.
To the right was the Ravens field, which they used as their home turf and where the Ravens offense operated against the 49ers defense.
The Niners wore red and it was interesting to see how differently the teams prepared for the competitive part of practice. The drills varied. Some variations can be explained away by the fact that the 49ers operate out of the pistol offense which requires refinement in areas that differ from the Gary Kubiak version of the west coast. The Niners also heavily emphasize their quarterbacks getting the ball out quickly and that leads to more variation in preparation.
Just as interesting is the level of involvement of the Harbaugh brothers.
John is often a relatively quiet observer allowing his coordinators to direct the flow of traffic. Sometimes you really need to look to find him on the field. Not brother Jim.
The former Ravens quarterback, as you can probably imagine, is very animated, very involved and runs roughshod over the officials who are on hand to help police practice. He’s essentially a human caricature – a real-life cartoon character.
But his players respond.
Overall it was a very interesting day in Owings Mills and it isn’t hard to imagine more teams doing the very same thing during future summer camps. There’s already talk that the Ravens may return the favor in 2015 and visit the 49ers headquarters.
John Harbaugh touched on that during his pre-practice presser.
“It’s on the backburner right now, and we’ll talk about it probably next spring [to] just see if it makes sense. At some point in time, we’ll get back there [and] hopefully we can do it next year. We just have to see.”
Logistically that may be taxing on the Ravens if their early 2015 regular season schedule includes a trip to San Francisco. The Ravens do play the NFC West next season when road trips to the Bay Area and Arizona are on the docket.