Harbaugh hopes players keep focus until July

Harbaugh hopes players keep focus until July
June 13, 2013, 3:30 pm
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Steve Spagnuolo explains what his role will be with Ravens

Here are three things coach John Harbaugh wants from the Ravens between now and the start of training camp in July – stay in shape, stay focused, stay out of trouble.

The Ravens wrapped up mandatory minicamp Thursday, and looked forward to over a month off prior to the first full training camp practice July 25. As for staying in shape, the Ravens are generally off to a good start.

Linebacker Courtney Upshaw was one of the few exceptions, coming to town more than 10 pounds heavier than last season. But Terrell Suggs reported to minicamp in superb condition and he was hardly alone. Collectively, the Ravens looked fit enough to play this Sunday.

"This is as good a looking football team as I’ve ever seen," said new senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo, who has coached with the Saints, Rams, Giants, and Eagles, and won a Super Bowl with the Giants as their defensive coordinator. "I’m talking about physically stout."

Harbaugh does not want to see a slippage in conditioning between now and late July. He alluded to that Thursday when he talked about left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who has also kept himself fit this offseason.

"He (McKinnie) moved really well in this camp," Harbaugh said. "As well as he moved at the end last year, when he started practicing so well and playing so well. He’ll continue to work on his conditioning. For all of us, that’s always a year-round, life-round proposition."

When training camp begins, Harbaugh does not want to be held back by players who cannot handle the pace of practice. During the next few weeks, Harbaugh also expects injured players like guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and linebacker Jameel McClain (spinal cord contusion) to be diligent about rehab.

Staying mentally focused will be an interesting dynamic for the Ravens, both during their upcoming break and throughout the season. There is no question the Ravens will have much different team chemistry after losing team leaders like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Anquan Boldin.

It is assumed that Suggs will naturally step into a larger leadership role. However, over the next few weeks, Suggs will think more about the kind of tone he wants to set in July.  He does not believe that one player can fill the leadership void by himself.

"We’re a very unique locker room," Suggs said. "I think everyone knows their position and their place. I don’t think there’s any pressure on one man to do it. We have all been around here long enough to know what needs to be said, who is appropriate to address something. We are a veteran team. There are a lot of guys in this locker room who are going to have to do some stepping up, not just me."

Avoiding trouble is always a concern for NFL players during the offseason. Harbaugh does not want any late-night phone calls over the next few weeks.

"Our guys have done a great job with that," Harbaugh said. "We’re not immune to it, as a team or organization. We’ve had our share of issues, but our share of issues have been a small share. So I would expect our guys to continue to do a great job of just being pros, and being quality people and citizens. I’ll be very surprised if anything like that’s a problem."