Even after steamrolling recent opponents, the Ravens aren't taking their foot off the gas.
Following a five-hour flight from Los Angeles, many players and coaches went directly from the airport to the weight room Tuesday morning. Lamar Jackson was at the Under Armour Performance Center on Tuesday, studying game tape even though it was the players' day off.
The Ravens have quickly moved on from Monday night's 45-6 thrashing of the Los Angeles Rams. Now the focus is on Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers (10-1), a contest being hyped as a possible Super Bowl preview.
Baltimore (9-2) has won seven straight, outscoring opponents 135-26 over the last three games. But the Ravens aren't buying into the hype. They're doing the work it takes to keep the momentum going.
"Fifteen or 20 guys in the weight room, with the coach, me, lifting right off the plane," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought that was really cool. Guys are into recovery, getting right on the task at hand."
Wide receiver Willie Snead IV says the Ravens remain hungry, knowing their goal of winning the Super Bowl can't be accomplished until February. He believes this group of players won't be seduced by regular season success.
"I think it's the men that we brought in," Snead said. "We brought in Mark Ingram, Earl Thomas, (Pernell) McPhee, we brought in Marcus Peters. We brought in a lot of guys that have that same edge and that same energy and mindset that most of the guys in our locker room have. Competitive, not losing, getting the most out of every day. Those are the type of men we have in our locker room. It's contagious."
The Ravens are looking forward to playing San Francisco, another team that has made consistency a trademark. When Snead looks at the 49ers on film, he says many of the same traits the Ravens have.
"Fast, aggressive, physical – I mean their front seven is pretty stout," Snead said. "They come in here with that swagger like they expect to win. It's going to be a huge challenge for us and we're looking forward to it. We respect the heck out of them. Shoot, they're 10-1."
Patrick Mekari Faces a Challenge, But Confident He Will Handle It
Matt Skura's season-ending knee injury makes Patrick Mekari the Ravens' new starting center. That's a lot to handle for an undrafted rookie.
Skura was playing the best football of his career, emerging as one of the league's top centers. However, Harbaugh has no doubt Mekari is ready. He played very well after replacing Skura against the Rams, and Harbaugh expects that to continue.
"He's just a very good player," Harbaugh said. "We were very fortunate to get him. I don't know how he fell through the draft. I blame all the scouts in the National Football League for missing him. It's kind of a joke that they missed him. We were really happy to benefit from that. I expect him to play at a high level."
One of the challenges for Mekari will be to give Jackson accurate snaps when he's in the shotgun. Jackson and Mekari will work a lot on their timing this week.
"It's definitely important, we practice it a lot," Mekari said. "Before practice, after practice, during practice. I feel comfortable with it. I hope he does, too."
Jackson gave Mekari a vote of confidence on Wednesday, saying he feels their chemistry is "very good."
The Ravens have the NFL's top rushing attack and their offensive line has been a major part of that success. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard Bradley Bozeman, right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. have played every game this season, making Mekari the first change in the offensive line all season. Makari is determined not to be a weak link.
"I don't want there to be a drop-off," Mekari said. "I just want to keep winning. That's the No. 1 goal. There's definitely pressure with it, but like I said, I'm confident, I'm feeling good."
Richard Sherman, Marlon Humphrey Share Mutual Respect
As a young player, Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey had several veteran cornerbacks he watched closely before entering the NFL. One of them was Richard Sherman of the 49ers and formerly Seahawks, where he was part of the famed "Legion of Boom" along with now Ravens safety Earl Thomas.
Humphrey is looking forward to seeing Sherman play in person for the first time from the opposite sideline.
"I watched some of his film this year and he's really been doing a good job," Humphrey said. "I know when he negotiated his own contract, people were saying, 'Well, how's he going to do with this?' He banked on himself being a great player with that contract. Being on the same field as him is definitely a pretty big deal for me."
Sherman has also noticed Humphrey's work. Humphrey is having his best year, playing at a Pro Bowl level in his third season. He is usually given the assignment of covering the opposing team's best wide receiver, and Humphrey has shut down Odell Beckham Jr. and JuJu Smith-Schuster already this season. Humphrey felt honored to hear from Sherman.
"He reached out to me earlier this year," Humphrey said. "For me, that really meant a lot that an All-Pro, Super Bowl champ, had something to say good about me. I look forward to being out there on the field with him."
Jihad Ward Loves Being a Raven
Defensive tackle Jihad Ward has been among several key players added to Baltimore's defense this season. Since signing with the Ravens on Oct. 7, Ward has played at least 32 defensive snaps for five consecutive weeks and the Ravens' run defense has benefitted.
A second-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2016, Ward has also played with the Cowboys and Colts, but he is enjoying playing for a team with a legitimate chance to win a Super Bowl.
"We treat every game as a rivalry game," Ward said. "We don't care if the opponent is our division or not. And this is a brotherhood. We have each other's backs, the offensive backs and defensive backs. We don't worry about mistakes. We keep grinding. You can see it.
"The offensive linemen here make me get better. If they're having trouble blocking me, I'm making them better. We're here to work. I'm all about getting better. It's fun."