Reschedule Presents New Challenge


While losing a bye week with the rescheduling of the Ravens' Week 2 matchup with the Houston Texans isn't the most popular way to get through an NFL season, the Ravens know they can't do anything about it.

Nature – in the form of Hurricane Ike's 110-mph winds – ran its course, and now Baltimore looks towards the next opponent, continuing one of the most-challenging schedules in the league.

The Ravens face 15-consecutive games without a break. There are eight remaining opponents that made the playoffs in 2007. And, there is a daunting six-week span that features five road trips.

Considering how much damage the powerful storm wreaked on Texas' Gulf Coast, the Ravens are simply happy they have a home.

"With our colleagues and friends with the Texans, we've been in contact with those people and our players with players that they know and friends in the organization," said head coach John Harbaugh Monday. "It's been tough for them. We're very understanding of the situation."

The NFL initially shifted the Ravens/Texans contest to Monday night, but parts of the roof of Houston's Reliant Stadium were blown off, rendering the venue unplayable. League officials considered playing the game at a neutral site, but time constraints made that logistically impossible.

That left the Ravens' Week 10 bye as the final alternative. Houston's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, originally scheduled for that same weekend, was moved to the Texans' and Bengals' Week 8 bye.

As the storm barreled down on landfall last week, several players expressed their desire to play the game on the original date, sentiments that Harbaugh echoed to the league office over conference calls.

"Our two cents was really on the behalf of our players," Harbaugh said. "The Texans spoke for their people, the league spoke on behalf of everybody, but it was our job to speak on behalf of our players, and our players wanted to play, and we wanted to play.

"But we also understood that if we were unable to play, we'd understand that and move on."

Because the Ravens were expecting to play Sunday, the team game-planned all week for the Texans instead of enjoying a few days of relaxation that typically come with the bye period.

Now, players have off until Wednesday, and Harbaugh hopes to get starters like defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (knee) and running back Willis McGahee (knee) what little rest he can afford.

"It's an opportunity for guys to get three days of rest and get more treatment," he said. "The guys who are working through some of those injuries, working hard to get back and get a chance to play, are going to do everything they can to get back for Sunday.

"It's not going to be something that's not going to help them. We'll see how much it helps them as we go."

Once the date was moved to Monday, coaches began preparations for Baltimore's Week 3 matchup with the Cleveland Browns.

"When we thought we were going to play on Monday night, our preparations started as a staff," Harbaugh explained. "We started breaking the Browns down and doing all the leg work that you would do previous to getting ready for them."

After Cleveland, the Ravens face three playoff contenders, at Pittsburgh, home against the Tennessee Titans and in Indianapolis. The Ravens meet the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders before three-straight away games against the Browns, Texans and Super Bowl-champion New York Giants.

Harbaugh thinks of such a tough stretch as more of a challenge to anticipate, not shy away from.

"It's going to be an opportunity," the coach said. "It's going to be a challenge. It's the one that's been presented to us. You talk about football players and football coaches and their mindset, that'll be something we'll take on with relish and attack it with an enthusiasm."

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