The day starts when it's dark and finishes around midnight. There are only about four hours in a day when there is not a lot of activity at the Ravens' home: the Under Armour Performance Center at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills, Md.
The place is a hive, buzzing with activity, all revolving around the players with the goal of getting the team ready for the 2013 season. Come with me and see what we saw in one recent 24-hour cycle:
Nick Goff, chef for Classic Catering, is the first to arrive.
Head trainer Mark Smith walks into the building.
John Harbaugh arrives.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome heads to his office.
S Omar Brown, ILB Bryan Hall and DL Kapron Lewis-Moore are the first players in the building.
CB Chykie Brown is in the training room while Harbs finishes a morning workout.
New TE Dallas Clark comes in with personnel intern Drew Tucker, and they eat breakfast.
TE Ed Dickson welcomes Clark to the Ravens.
Ozzie starts the first of three daily workouts on the treadmill. Newsome comes back at 11:45 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. The GM has called these sessions "my think tank time." It's also one way Oz interacts with the players on the team. Later today (11:40 a.m.), Harbs stands at the treadmill having a serious conversation with Newsome.
Bryant McKinnie is on the elliptical - the first of three daily sessions he has on this machine. The others come at 11:30 a.m. and 9:15 p.m.
Harbs meets with rookie S Gary Walker and tells him that we are releasing him. Walker has tears in his eyes as his NFL dream ends. John's eyes glisten too. "Toughest thing I do. Gary did everything he could to be a Raven, but it wasn't good enough," Harbaugh said later in the day.
The "Wolfpack" – P Sam Koch, Snapper Morgan Cox and K Justin Tucker arrive for breakfast. This trio spends a lot of time together.
Assistant Head Coach Jerry Rosburg leads a special teams meeting
Some unsuspecting visitor, wearing black and gold, arrives in our lobby and is confronted by Terrell Suggs: "Hey, in this building, a little less gold and a lot more black." Not sure the visitor realized the Steelers reference.
Offense and defense meet in separate rooms and are given today's lesson plans. Harbs sits with the defense this day.
Coach Harbaugh does radio interview for "The Dan Patrick Show" with substitute host Mike Florio, the father and engine behind "ProFootballTalk."
(Harbs needs a revolving door to his office. Visits are constant. This day he meets with trainer Smith six times, Ozzie twice, PR three times, strength coach Bob Rogucki twice, all three coordinators multiple times, team President Dick Cass two times, Steve Bisciotti and assorted players. I'm surprised John doesn't have a nervous tick from the volume of folks wanting his time – and when someone is not in his office, the head coach is looking at practice video, tape of this week's opponent (Falcons) and tweaking the team's schedule. Also caught him taking a peek at video of the Broncos.)
Meetings break, and Suggs heads to Community Relations Director Heather Darney's office for a small piece of candy. Along the way, he attempts to sneak up on three interns working together in a small office. He has frightened this trio regularly with leaps into the quiet room. "Sizzle" grabs CR intern Kelly Quinlan's phone and asks, "What music are you listening to?" The phone indicates "Ray." "Ray Who?" demands Suggs. "Ray LaMontagne," replies Kelly. "Nice!" the departing Suggs shouts.
Justin Tucker is singing "Photograph" in the locker room. To his surprise Terrence Cody joins in on the chorus of this "Nickelback" song. Tucker says, "I'm amazed at how much music 'TC' knows, and we both want it known that we despise Nickelback almost as much as we hate Creed."
The giant washing machines are all going, one of three or four times daily. The players and staff workout clothes are cleaned with water that is close to boiling hot.
The full-team "Assignment, Alignment, Count and Technique" session takes place on the indoor field. This "walk through" lasts one hour.
LB Jameel McClain, sidelined with a bruise to his spinal cord, lifts weights. It is the first of three workout sessions for this dedicated player. One of the team's top leaders, it's tough seeing this good man on the sideline.
The weight room is alive under supervision from Rogucki and his assistants. The weights are clanging, the music is blaring, and the chalk is flying. These are big, strong men throwing weights around. There is always activity in this room with larger groups arriving at 11:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
DT Haloti Ngata is in one of his four sessions with stretching expert Roger Erickson. Ngata also spends time with Roger at 7:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Walk through the locker room, where there is always a corn hole game being played when players have a break.
The movie "Django Unchained" is playing in Suggs locker, and he watches with Ngata and DE Arthur Jones.
Arthur Jones makes a smoothie of kale, spinach, protein powder and fruit for his lunch. CBs Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and Corey Graham share a table.
QB Joe Flacco, fresh from a bubble hockey game, WR Torrey Smith and Webb meet separately with Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden about the back shoulder pass. Smith does two more interviews before getting waxed in hockey by Tucker.
RB Ray Rice is coaxed by the TV folks from Telemundo to Salsa dance And then was asked if he could speak Spanish. Ray replied: "Me llamo es Raymundo Arroz."
Rice, after doing an interview, heads through the training room with a pillow. "Headed for a quick nap in the running backs' room," he said.
Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta announces that today's yogurt is a "7.1." That's an extremely high grade from the personnel expert. Last player I saw get this grade from our scouts was Denver's Von Miller. DeCosta and his associates grade our food. If they say the soup is a 6.6, I go get the soup. If they say it's a 5.9, I skip it.
All 17 tables in the training room are filled. Players and teams have become sophisticated about preventing and treating injuries.
Back in meetings for offense and defense.
Quick walk through in the personnel department reveals Pro Personnel Director Vincent Newsome watching Steelers vs. Giants video, Senior Personnel Assistant George Kokinis studying Houston versus Miami, while Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Chad Alexander, who will provide our coaches with the definitive scouting report on the Broncos, watches Broncos vs. 49ers video.
Special teams players begin practice.
Full team takes the field.
The injured Dickson works with yoga professional Karen Dubs on the basketball court.
Practice ends. Players scurry to sign autographs for the children, soldiers and special guests at practice. Harbs meets with the media, as do about 15 other players and coaches. John then goes over to sign for the kids and soldiers, posing for pictures and making conversation.
(Harbs, Jones and Torrey signed autographs every day of camp. Stalwarts included Flacco, Ngata, S Matt Elam and the special teams trio.)
While signing for some soldiers, CB Jimmy Smith starts writing his name on Corey Graham's jersey. When Graham notices, he turns and chases Smith around the field.
Coordinators meet with their respective staffs to review practice and prepare for team meeting.
Harbs has dinner with his daughter Alison and Margaret Rosburg, daughter of Jerry. (With these long days, it's great to see family members of Ravens hanging out at our building.)
Loud laughter is heard from the team meeting room. My guess is that some rookie has "volunteered" to entertain his teammates with a song.
Meetings end, and most players leave the building.
Harbs holds coaching staff meeting.
Players in the team hotel have curfew, and each room is checked by security.
V. Newsome, Kokinis and personnel/scouting assistant Tolu Lasaki leave the building. (Harbs left at 11:10 p.m.)
There's more. I could fill many other pages describing the day's activities, but you get the idea. It takes a lot to put a winning team on the field. We're trying to be one of those teams in 2013.
Talk with you next week,