The Ravens have landed in Philadelphia for three days of practices and Saturday's second preseason game.
It's the second straight year the Ravens have participated in joint practices, as they hosted the San Francisco 49ers at the Under Armour Performance Center last year.
This time, however, the leader on the other side won't be Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh's brother. The Eagles are a bit more of an unknown dance partner.
Here are seven things to watch as practices begin Wednesday at 11:35 a.m. at the Eagles practice facility:
1) The practice tempo
Teams across the NFL practice at different intensity levels and tempos. Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly is known for his insanely fast-paced offense, and he apparently goes at a frantic pace in practice, too. The Ravens don't think they'll have any trouble hanging. "It's hard to believe anybody practices faster than us. It really is," defensive end Chris Canty said. Harbaugh added to that, saying, "We have intense days out here, too, so I wouldn't say it's any different than what we do out here. Realistically, we go really hard. There's nobody that gets more reps than we do in practice."
2) How the teams get along
The Texans and Redskins made headlines last week with their joint practice brawl, prompting a league-wide memo prohibiting fighting. Then the Cowboys and Rams got into it this week. The Ravens run a physical practice while still staying within the rules and looking out for each other. Baltimore is going in with no intention of causing trouble. Still, when two different teams with perhaps different ideas of practice intensity get together in close proximity for such an extended period of time, there's always potential for some friction. Harbaugh said he's emphasizing to his team not to get into any "extracurricular stuff" right after the play. We're counting on the Eagles to do that," he said. "Really, when you practice together, you're like a team. You have to function as a team in a sense, and that's what we tried to do last year with San Francisco. We'll try to accomplish that again."
3) Ravens run defense vs. Eagles' talented running backs
Baltimore's defensive front is adjusting to the post-Haloti Ngata era, plus dealing with an injury to defensive end Brent Urban (biceps). Defensive tackles Timmy Jerngian and Brandon Williams, along with inside linebackers C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith, will be tested by the Eagles' fearsome trio of running backs in DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews. Those three tailbacks all have different styles as Murray is a good zone runner, Sproles is dangerous as a receiver and Mathews is a big-bodied downhill runner.
4) Test for the pass rushers
The Ravens-Eagles pass-rushing drills should be quite entertaining. The Ravens' duo of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will be squaring off against two of the best offensive tackles in the game in Jason Peters (left) and Lane Johnson (right). Peters already claimed the Eagles*offensive line is better than the Cowboys' which is regarded as tops in the league. The Ravens *offensive line will have something to say about that. Watch for Baltimore's offensive line to try to impose its will on some talented Eagles rushers such as Brandon Graham, Kiko Alonso and Fletcher Cox.
5) Where's the offense at?
The Ravens' first-team offense passed its first test with flying colors in the preseason opener, beginning the game with a 16-play march that ended with a touchdown. That was all the action the unit got. The time in Philadelphia will be a much more extended look at how the unit should fare against other teams this season. Neither team will game-plan for practice, but one-on-one battles are still won and lost. With two talented teams on the field, the level of play will be high.
6) Ravens' injury progress
All eyes will still be looking out to see if rookie first-round wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) will return to practice. Perriman reportedly could be back within a week after undergoing an MRI Monday. The Ravens would love to get Perriman some work against another team's cornerbacks after he's missed almost all of training camp. Cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and tight end Maxx Williams (unknown) have also missed multiple consecutive practices.
7) The Tim Tebow buzz
Let's be honest, Tim Tebow is an interesting guy. Back from a year spent as a college football analyst, Tebow is now competing to be a backup quarterback. When Philadelphia signed him, pundits speculated that it was to use him on two-point conversions, since teams may attempt more this year with the extra points being moved back and are more difficult. If so, the Ravens will get good practice defending another team's two-point conversions, and a chance to get at Tebow. It will be fun to see what Suggs may say to or about Tebow.
8) Harbaugh returning to his old home
It will be interesting to see Harbaugh back in his old environment. Harbaugh was in Philadelphia for 10 seasons (1998-2007) as their defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator. It's where he got his start in the NFL before coming to Baltimore in 2008. Harbaugh has been back for regular-season and preseason games, but not for this extended period of time. Perhaps he'll have time to settle in and let the memories flood back.
The head coach will head back to his old stomping grounds when the Ravens hold joint practices in Philadelphia.