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Ravens Focused On Sleep, Not Sightseeing, In London

September 20, 2017
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr played in London when he was with the Dallas Cowboys, and Ravens offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom made that trip with the Oakland Raiders. So they have some idea what to expect, but many Ravens say they are just hoping to get enough sleep and stay focused on football when they travel to London this week to face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium Sept. 24. 

"It really is a business trip for us," cornerback Lardarius Webb said before the team's practice Sept. 20. "As much as a lot of us want to see London, just to see it, we still have to come back 3-0."

The Ravens will practice at their Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills as usual Wednesday and Thursday this week, then fly overnight to London, arriving early Friday morning London time, which will basically be the middle of the night Eastern time given the five-hour time difference.

Carr, whose Cowboys team spent the entire week in London before their game there, said he told teammates to "embrace the different cultures … It's going to be a great experience for us."

"During the game … the fans are different. They cheer for everything," Carr said. "You're going to see every single jersey from 32 teams, so it's going to be a fun affair." 

But, Carr said, it is still "a business trip for us, so just stay locked in, but also get some time away to kind of see some of the sights."

That won't be easy given the team's schedule. They arrive Friday morning, practice at a local rugby facility Friday afternoon, have a light walkthrough practice Saturday and then play the game Sunday. Immediately after the game, the Ravens will fly home and begin preparing to face the Pittsburgh Steelers Oct. 1.

"It's pretty much the same schedule as we have in our normal home-game type situation," Harbaugh said, noting players will have some free time Friday after practice and Saturday afternoon.

Quarterback Joe Flacco, for one, does not anticipate doing much sightseeing.

"I haven't really thought about that," Flacco said. "We're not going to be staying downtown or anything. … I don't think, really, we're going to have a ton of free time."

Flacco said he is more concerned about getting proper rest and eating right. "I have to rely on some family taking pictures," he said.

The Ravens have talked to sleep specialists who have advised them to try to get to sleep earlier this week to adjust for the time change; the game begins at 2:30 p.m. London time, or 9:30 a.m. Eastern time. 

Harbaugh, for one, said he hasn't been able to do that.

"I felt bad about it," Harbaugh said. "I wanted to do it the right way, but I think it's more important for the players to get on their pattern than it is for me."

One challenge, several players said, will be trying to sleep on the trans-Atlantic flight so they can arrive in London rested.

"I'm definitely banking on trying to fall asleep on that flight, because if not, Friday's going to be a long day," Flacco said. 

Webb said he is not looking forward to the flight, but joked he's loaded up his iPad with movies and TV shows. Among the movies: "London Has Fallen."

"I love that movie!" Webb said. "When I need a go-to movie, I can go to 'London Has Fallen' and it's going give me all the action in the world. But I wonder what they guys'll think when they see me watching 'London Has Fallen.'"


Z. SMITH RETURNS, B. WILLIAMS AMONG FIVE OUT: Linebacker Za'Darius Smith returned to practice Sept. 20, his first action since suffering a knee/ankle injury at Cincinnati in Week 1. However, defensive tackle Brandon Williams (foot) was among five players who did not take part in the portion of practice open to the media. Others sidelined were wide receiver Michael Campanaro (ankle), running back Terrance West (undisclosed), cornerback Jaylen Hill (hamstring) and tight end Maxx Williams (foot/ankle). 

WEBB THOUGHT HE'D BE 'PLAYER-COACH': Webb is tied for the team lead in interceptions, but he candidly admitted he did not expect to be playing much this season. Webb, who turns 32 in October, was cut in a salary cap move, then re-signed and figured to have a backup role at safety. Tavon Young and Maurice Canady were expected to be the slot cornerbacks, but both of them are on injured reserve with knee injuries, and Webb has taken over that spot. "Those were the guys that were probably going to  have that job, and I was going to be teaching them. I was the player-coach," Webb said. "So I'm blessed to be where I am today, and I'm just enjoying it."

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVE: The Cleveland Browns signed defensive back Reggie Porter off the Ravens' practice squad. To fill that vacancy, the Ravens signed cornerback Josh Thornton to the practice squad. Thornton signed with the Detroit Lions this spring as an undrafted rookie out of Southern Utah but did not make the Lions' 53-man roster.

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka    

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox