That 24-hour role had to be expedited this week, following Sunday’s emotional 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots. The Ravens now have just three days to prepare for Thursday’s nationally-televised matchup with the Cleveland Browns, and they quickly turned the page from the Week 3 win.
"You don’t even have the [24-hour rule] this week,” center
"There is no more admiring the victory,” Head Coach John Harbaugh added. "You try to do that every week, but normally you have a day or two to kind of wash it away.”
While the Ravens are coming off a gritty comeback win, the Browns are off to an abysmal start. Cleveland is 0-3 and widely regarded as one of the worst teams in the NFL.
On paper, it’s a matchup Baltimore should win handedly – the Ravens opened as 13-point favorites – but the Ravens aren’t basking in Sunday’s success during the week of preparation.
"Nothing is older than yesterday’s success. We understand that,” Birk said. "They’re all big, but division games are a little bigger and count just a little more, and we’ll have our hands full. The Patriots game is ancient history.”
In a typical NFL week, coaches and players spend Monday reviewing the film from Sunday, have an off day Tuesday, and then begin implementing the new gameplan on Wednesday. That schedule is vastly accelerated this week, as the Ravens have only about 92 hours in between the two games.
Much of the coaching staff came right to the team’s facility following Sunday’s game, and the players were back on the practice field Monday for a light walk through.
"We’re adjusting the schedule a little bit and I think two things are important: preparation and recovery,” Harbaugh said. "One can’t really take a backseat to the other.”
Thursday’s matchup will cap off a stretch where the Ravens play four games in 18 days to open the season. To get ready on a short week, the Ravens will back off some of the hitting in practice and allow the players to heal up before Thursday.
The good news for the Ravens is that they are relatively healthy heading into Thursday’s game, as backup linebacker
"It seems like we’re OK at this point, nothing major,” Harbaugh said about the health of his team.
The NFL added Thursday night games to the schedule back in 2006 and the Ravens are 2-2 in those contests, including 1-1 in the Harbaugh era. Baltimore played one Thursday night game last season, beating Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers, 16-6, on Thanksgiving.
The focus this week for the Ravens is to take a workman-type approach to the preparation and make the most of the time that they do have.
"You have to adjust, you have to prioritize, squeeze more into a shorter amount of time and make sure you’re ready to go,” Birk said. "That’s what being a professional is."