Having a first-round bye doesn't mean the Ravens will be relaxing. They'll be working.
Head Coach John Harbaugh has set the team's bye week schedule and the players will practice Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Harbaugh is giving the team off New Year's Day (Wednesday), as well as the weekend.
"They'll be fundamental practices, going to work and trying to improve over the course of the week," Harbaugh said. "Saturday, of course, we'll be watching the games just like everybody else to see who we play. The coaches will be back in Sunday to game plan. Monday we'll start our week of preparation for the divisional game on Saturday (Jan. 11)."
Baltimore will host its playoff opener against either the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, or Tennessee Titans depending upon the outcome of games on wild-card weekend. Coaches will work throughout the week on scouting and preparing for all three scenarios, Harbaugh said.
This is the first time the Ravens have enjoyed a first-round bye since 2011. While the Ravens have earned this position, they don't want to lose the momentum they've built by winning a franchise-record 12 straight games.
"It's a the beginning of an opportunity," Harbaugh said. "It's new in that sense. But also, we're the same team going forward, and we want to keep building on the team that we are right now. We're not starting from scratch. We have things to work on. We have things to build on. That's what we'll go forward trying to improve. We'll just be a better football team tomorrow than we were Sunday. And then throughout the course of the week, just one day at a time, one step at a time."
Lamar Jackson Has Flu, But Expects to Practice; Mark Ingram Is Progressing
Given the day off Sunday, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was on the sideline watching his teammates win, but he wasn't feeling 100 percent. Jackson has the flu, but Harbaugh said he expects Jackson to practice Tuesday.
Harbaugh does not want the flu bug spreading through the team this week.
"I made a point to give him (Jackson) an elbow bump," Harbaugh said. "There were no handshakes."
Harbaugh said running back Mark Ingram II (calf) is making progress recovering from his injury suffered Week 16. Ingram says he expects to play next weekend and Harbaugh said there have been no setbacks.
"He had a running workout today and is on schedule," Harbaugh said.
Regarding another injury, Harbaugh said tight end Mark Andrews (ankle) almost dressed Sunday before the decision was made to make him inactive.
"He was a game time decision and didn't feel good, didn't feel right before the game," Harbaugh said.
Patrick Onwuasor Responds Well After Disagreement With Harbaugh
Before practice Friday, inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor and Harbaugh were seen having an animated discussion on the field prior to practice. The incident led to Onwuasor being sent back inside.
However, Onwuasor responded Sunday with an aggressive performance (five tackles), including three tackles on special teams. Harbaugh also downplayed the disagreement with a smile.
"Yes, that's exactly the response that you look for," Harbaugh said. "It's been a lot more heated than that out there, but there's degrees of heat, right? So, it was good. We had a good heart-to-heart, and he's an honest guy and he was a good listener, too. And he took it and ran with it and made the most of it, and that's – gosh, that's all you ever ask for. It was great to see."
Offensive Line Backups Were Stellar Against Steelers
Resting Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda on Sunday, the Ravens still rushed for 223 yards against one of the best defensive fronts in football. It was part of the offensive line having another stellar day, with James Hurst starting at left tackle, Patrick Ehinger starting at right guard, and rookie guard Ben Powers also playing 32 snaps.
Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Allesandris has been praised by Harbaugh all season for the job he has done with the unit, and the players have responded no matter who has been in the lineup. The offensive line got a game ball after the win.
"It says a lot about the line depth, and it was very impressive," Harbaugh said. "To see those guys come in, guys who haven't played a lot … Ben Powers getting his first action played very well. Parker Ehinger… this guy was knocking people off the ball. Those guys played at a super high level. It was fun to watch."