As Hurricane Ike bears down on Houston and the southern coast of Texas, the Ravens are rewriting their travel plans on the fly.
Originally scheduled to take on the Houston Texans this Sunday, the game was rescheduled for Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET) after Ike veered north in the Gulf of Mexico and gained strength as it heads for landfall.
While football remains the main focus this week for players and coaches, the reality many Houston residents - and NFL players - face is difficult to look past.
"That's a serious thing going on down there," said Ravens linebacker Bart Scott. "A lot of people were victims of Katrina, so it's like Groundhog Day. Your hearts go out to everyone, and hopefully the storm won't be as bad as it's predicted."
The Ravens are currently planning on traveling to Houston Sunday at 4 p.m., but with Ike's 105-mph winds buffeting the city, which is 60 miles inland of the coast, the inclement weather could even force the league to make another change to the schedule. That may include moving the site or date of the Week 2 contest.
According to head coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens are proceeding with Monday as the goal. Any other obstacles will be dealt with when the results of Ike are assessed.
"We know that there is the planning for an alternative site in case Houston is damaged badly, and we'll be told what that site is," Harbaugh said. "But if we have arrangements prepared to go [to that alternative site]? Not that I'm aware of."
The coach continued, "As far as preparation for this game, we're on schedule and we know we're going to play. We've been told that we're going to play on Monday night, so that's what we're preparing for."
Ravens kicker Matt Stover, a Dallas native, has seen Houston deal with hurricanes before, so he is confident the city will be prepared for Ike's arrival.
"I think you have to hope for the best, and I think that's what they're doing," Stover said. "Both teams want to play in Houston. We don't want to go to some neutral site or even cancel the game. In fact, as a player rep, I really don't want that because that would be our bye, and that's not good for us.
"We want to make sure, as a team, we play the game in Houston on Monday night and come back with a win."
An extra day of rest can help Ravens and Texans players get ready for live action this week, but it can also present some problems as Baltimore goes forward with the Cleveland Browns in Game 3.
With a short turnaround before facing their AFC North rivals, the Ravens will be doing everything they can to recover.
"It doesn't hurt you for this week, because you get an extra day of rest, but it hurts you for Cleveland, because it's a short week and you have to deal with the soreness," Scott explained. "You have to do a great job of getting in the ice tub and making sure you can recover."
The Ravens are hopeful that defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (knee) will be able to play Monday, but the nine-year veteran is listed as doubtful on the team's Friday injury report.
Gregg practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday before sitting out the next two days.
"I thought [Gregg] looked great to me," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said Thursday. "His technique is probably better than everybody else's, like it normally is. He looked good to me."
Cornerback Derrick Martin (shoulder) was also listed as doubtful, which means there is a 25-percent chance he will play.
Baltimore listed quarterback Troy Smith (illness) and cornerback Fabian Washington (neck) as out.
Another Pro Bowl Receiver in Johnson
Two-time Pro Bowler Andre Johnson is just the next in a series of stellar receivers to face the Ravens.
Baltimore had to counter T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson - both of whom made the Hawaii trip last year - in Week 1. Andre Johnson, who posted a 60-catch, 851-yard season in 2007, is the Texans' career leader in all receiving categories.
In Week 3, the Ravens will see the Browns' Braylon Edwards, another 2007 Pro Bowler.
"It just seems like each week, you know, hell – last week we have Chad and we have Houshmandzadeh, and now you get another Pro Bowler in Andre Johnson," Ryan said with a laugh. "So, hopefully one of these days we'll have some average receivers over there and we can really come after them.
"With [Andre], he's physical, tough, strong, makes all the catches, the underneath catches, the vertical routes and things. He's probably as complete a guy as there is."
The NFL released its list of season-long captains for each team Friday. Clubs are allowed to designate up to six season captains to wear a special "C" patch with stars underneath indicating how long that player has earned the honor. The Ravens, however, are one of four teams to appoint their captains weekly, along with the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons…The Ravens are 2-0 against the Texans, playing once in Houston (Dec. 15, 2002) and once in Baltimore (Dec. 4, 2005)…After monitoring Willis McGahee's progress with his surgically-cleaned right knee, Harbaugh is confident the running back can play Monday. "He's in the plans to play," Harbaugh said. "He's in the rotation, and he had a good week at practice, and he looked good."