The Ravens are on a liaison trip, but it’s also a work trip.
Afternoon temperatures were in the mid-90s in Tempe, Ariz. on Friday, but that didn’t stop the Ravens from practicing for more than two hours outside at the Arizona State practice facility. Their four-day stay in Arizona will culminate with Sunday night’s preseason game against the Cardinals, and it’s the kind of extended trip the Ravens couldn’t plan during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Head coach John Harbaugh and many players felt it was important to take a preseason journey that will strengthen camaraderie and build relationships for a 17-game regular season that will test them in so many ways. Even before Friday night’s team dinner, Harbaugh saw the benefit of making an early start to Arizona. The Ravens left Thursday afternoon and won’t return until after Sunday’s game.
“We faced a situation last season where we had to train and go home, or we had to have Zoom meetings, or we had to stand three feet apart,” Harbaugh said after Friday’s practice session. “It takes its toll on the teams and on the people in general.
“Now that we’re back together, we felt like we should take advantage of the situation. Let’s see if we can hit the streets together for four or five days. What starts off the field shows up on the field. Whether it’s work ethic, discipline or relationships, building those types of bonds is important.”
The Ravens originally planned to train indoors on Friday, but the players preferred to practice on grass, which is easier on their legs than the artificial surface. So Harbaugh switched to working on the outfield and the players showed their dedication with a solid unit.
“The workout was sharp, it was crisp, it was hot,” Harbaugh said. “But we had another good, hot day at work and the guys were in good spirits.
“It was the player’s request to go outside and Arizona State was good, they gave us a dime to change our plans. It was great. Now we have the team dinner tonight to look forward to.”