John Harbaugh stepped to the microphone for his first press conference of training camp, and made one point clear:
The 2012 season is over. The Super Bowl is a memory.
"First post-practice of the 2013 season," Harbaugh said with a smile. "So I guess that means that 2012 is behind us, right?"
That's the message Harbaugh and the Ravens emphasized as they opened training camp this week. Super Bowl XLVII is in the rearview mirror and the focus is squarely ahead to preparing for the 2013 season.
The Super Bowl and pageantry surrounding it are all memories the Ravens can cherish, and Harbaugh has said on numerous occasions that the 2012 team "will walk together forever as champions."
But now it's on to a new challenge, and the team leaders are embracing that philosophy.
"I don't think we think about last year at all," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Our team is different, just like it is every year."
Much of the team from last year is gone.
The Ravens have replaced nine starters from the Super Bowl roster. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, two cornerstone players of the franchise, have both moved on. And so have the Ravens.
"We've got a lot of guys that are hungry to get to where we were last year," Flacco said. "We have a lot of guys that are hungry to get back to where we were last year. Every season is a new season."
Now there are new faces looking to get their opportunity to play for a championship.
Additions like Michael Huff, Elvis Dumervil, Marcus Spears, Matt Elam, Daryl Smith and Arthur Brown have never played in a Super Bowl, and they have watched their new teammates celebrate championship festivities with events like the White House visit and ring ceremony. Now they want a chance of their own to go after an NFL title.
"That gives me a lot of motivation," Elam said. "It gives me hunger. It gives me desire. It makes me want to go out – and I see what they do and see how they work to get the ring – and that makes me want to go out and work the same way, so I can do whatever I can to help the team get another ring."
The Ravens know the challenge that comes with being the Super Bowl champions, as players and coaches have been reminded time and time again that no team has repeated as champions since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. The last eight Super Bowl champs haven't even won a playoff game the next year.
The Ravens, however, are much more interested in looking ahead and still building off their experiences from last season.
"You definitely want to look forward," linebacker Courtney Upshaw said. "But at the times where we find ourselves down in games, or where you have your best players injured and somebody has to step up, we can look back to last year and say, 'We did it once, we can do it again.' But at the same time, we know it's going to be tough getting back."
Harbaugh has emphasized since the start of the offseason program that the Ravens can't rest on their success from last season, and that nobody will cut them any breaks for being last year's champions.
After the Super Bowl, he quickly got back to work on preparing for the draft and free agency, and the front office led the team through a significant roster overhaul the last few months.
"As coaches, right away you come into the office, and as scouts, you go to work," Harbaugh said. "Then the players come in, you go to work. Then the players get on the field, you go to work."
Leading up to camp, the workload has been piecemeal. The players go through workouts and a few days of mandatory practice, but then take off for about a month. With training camp now underway, Harbaugh said that the team really *gets to work.*
"It's the best part of it," Harbaugh said. "It's what we enjoy the most. It's why we do this."