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Ravens moving main practice to grass field

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Ravens moving main practice to grass field

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Unhappy with the hard artificial turf at Tulane University's baseball field, the Baltimore Ravens finished practice Thursday on the grass field at the Saints' facility instead.

The San Francisco 49ers, their opponent in Sunday's Super Bowl, already are training at the Saints' complex in nearby Metairie.

The Ravens asked the league early Thursday if they could work out at the Saints' facility. In order for both teams to practice at different times there, the Ravens agreed to dress at Tulane's baseball facility and hold their 30-minute walk-through there.

Then the players and coaches boarded five buses for the 8-mile trip from Tulane to the Saints' facility, not far from New Orleans International Airport. There, under heightened security, the Ravens completed their on-field work for the day with a 1-hour, 25-minute practice coach John Harbaugh called ``a very normal, late-season Thursday practice.''

All 53 players on the Ravens' active roster practiced under sunny skies, and none of the players was limited.

``I think our players dealt with it great,'' said Harbaugh, who walked off the field afterward with linebacker Ray Lewis. ``As Ray just said to me, `We work.' That's what we do. Our guys don't flinch at things like this.''

Because Tulane has broken ground on a new football stadium, the AFC champions were forced to practice in the outfield of the baseball facility Wednesday.

``It's a baseball field, it's really tight, and when you stop and start, you feel it,'' Lewis said. ``It's especially tough for the older guys. I know the other players, on that hard surface, they feel it.

``I don't think (the NFL) thought it would be a problem. The last thing you want is anything that makes your players ache. You want to do the opposite.''

As part of the preparation at Tulane, the baseball field was tested to measure the hardness of the surface. The readings were within the acceptable range for NFL fields, but the Ravens weren't comfortable.

They also were working on a makeshift 80-yard field, although another area was available for the kickers.

And they had no indoor field to work on as the 49ers did. The Ravens practiced in wind gusts up to 24 mph on Wednesday.

Tulane has begun tearing down the regular practice field, where the new stadium will go. While Super Bowl planning has been under way for three years, Tulane's construction timeline was uncertain as the school cleared bureaucratic hurdles until recently.

Both Super Bowl teams have worked out at the same venue before.

In 2004 in Houston, the Panthers and Patriots both used the Texans' training facility.

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In a league of either ball control or quick scores, the Ravens’ offense can do both

In a league of either ball control or quick scores, the Ravens’ offense can do both

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Matt Skura had no idea the third quarter was over until he checked the clock for himself. 

Against the Patriots two weeks ago, the Ravens took over on offense up just a touchdown with eight minutes and three seconds left in the quarter. They ran out the entire quarter, including six seconds of the fourth quarter, and ended the drive with a touchdown. 

The next drive took nine minutes and 35 seconds off the clock, as the two Ravens drives of the half that didn’t end the game took 17 minutes and 44 seconds off the clock. 

In a league of big plays and passing, the Ravens are bucking the trend with long, sustained drives to take the life out of defenses.

“You can definitely tell in the second half when they start to get worn down, especially those extended drives that are like, seven or eight minutes long,” Skura said. “By the end of it, the pass rush slows down, the run stopping slows down as well. We know it’s giving our defense rest to come out and feel fresh.”

But the Ravens not only can score with long, soul-killing drives, they can score at will, too. 

Against the Bengals last Sunday, the Ravens had the ball for just 23 minutes and 49 seconds. They also scored more points (49) than they ran offensive plays (46). 

“At the end of the day, if they can’t have the ball and score, they can’t win,” Willie Snead said. “It’s all about ball control and how fast we can get in the end zone. Last week, the time of possession was flipped. But we were scoring, the defense was playing great and we were just moving the ball at will.”

Baltimore is currently second in the NFL in possession at 34:24, trailing only San Francisco by eight seconds on average. Before the Cincinnati game, Baltimore was first in the NFL in time of possession. Scoring quickly, and on defense, tends to skew those numbers. 

The most impressive drives, though, are the ones that control the clock and involve double-digit plays.

“It’s just incredible what we’re doing right now, with these 14, 15-play drives,” Hayden Hurst said. “Teams are having a tough time matching up against us. We’re just kind of grinding out drives and marching down the field on teams. It’s really fun right now, what G-Ro has schemed up.”

The opponent also plays a factor in how the Ravens game plan, as giving the ball back to a talented offense could end up biting them later in the game.

“Like a game in New England, we know who’s on the other side of it,” Snead continued. “We’ve got to take that into consideration. 12-play, 18-play drives, that just means less time for him. It’s all into the game plan. When we run the ball and get going it’s hard for anybody to stop.”

While there’s different ways score on offense, the Ravens have shown that they’ve got the speed and talent to score quickly over-the-top of defenses with Lamar Jackson and Hollywood Brown, amongst others. 

And even though those are the prettiest plays, the drives that truly take the life out of the defense are the ones that take significant time of the clock, slowly bleeding the game until the offense doesn’t even know they’ve ran down an entire quarter.

“You’ve got to get the first first down,” Bradley Bozeman said. “Once you get the first first down, you start marching, start pacing. It just depends how they’re playing us, determines what we do. It’s not rocket science.”

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Browns' Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely, will miss rest of the 2019 season at a minimum

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Browns' Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely, will miss rest of the 2019 season at a minimum

Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett has been suspended indefinitely at a minimum of the remainder of the 2019 season, including the Ravens-Browns Week 16 matchup, for his role in a nasty brawl with the Steelers on Thursday Night Football. 

Things got ugly after Garrett tackled Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with eight seconds remaining in the Browns 21-7 victory over Pittsburgh. Rudolph attempted to pull Garrett's helmet off his head, which led the defensive lineman to then remove Rudolph's helmet. Garrett then used Rudolph's helmet to swing at Rudolph, using the helmet as a weapon.

You can watch the whole brawl unfold below.

Garrett's suspension means he will miss Baltimore's clash with Cleveland in Week 16. From a football standpoint, Garrett is arguably the Browns best defensive player and a crucial loss for a team that is still fighting for a playoff berth.

According to the release, Garrett must meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell prior to a decision on his reinstatement.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has been suspended three games for his role in the incident as well. Following Garrett's helmet-punch, Pouncey, in defense of his quarterback, started kicking and punching Garrett. 

Browns linebacker Larry Ogunjobi has also been suspended for one game for his role in the incident, too.

Garrett is an enormous loss for the Browns on the football field, and this punishment from the NFL is the league's way of making sure an incident like the one that occurred Thursday night never happens again. 

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