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Talk of Super Bowl, being 'special' comes to a halt

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Talk of Super Bowl, being 'special' comes to a halt

Less than a week ago, after the Ravens came back to win in overtime that included an incredible 4th-and-29 conversion, coach John Harbaugh’s words were being echoed all around locker room.

The Ravens are special. Their defense had overcome injuries to Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and a host of others. They had no business winning 16-13 in overtime at the San Diego Chargers, but they did.

“Louisiana is where our eyes are. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” safety Bernard Polalrd admitted, alluding to where the Super Bowl will be played in the Superdome on Feb. 3.

The Ravens (9-3) were on the verge of clinching the AFC North with five games left in the regular season and had a 10-point lead on the depleted Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) on Sunday.

That quickly changed when third-string quarterback Charlie Batch led the Steelers to a 23-20 victory as Shaun Suisham made a 42-yard field goal when time expired.

The Ravens still have a two-game lead in the division and barring an epic collapse claim that crown again. But the remaining schedule isn’t easy.

They’re at the Washington Redskins next week and have home games vs. Denver Broncos and New York Giants and a season-finale at the Cincinnati Bengals who still could be playing for a postseason spot.

“It sucks to let this thing go. We’re all still trying to figure out how, why,” Pollard said. “Humble pie is on us and nobody likes to eat that. … We should’ve stepped on their throat and choked them out when we had the chance and we just did not do that.”

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Ravens reopen training facility in Owings Mills without players and coaches

Ravens reopen training facility in Owings Mills without players and coaches

The Ravens reopened their training facility in Owings Mills, Maryland, on Tuesday under Phase I of the NFL’s process to reopen. This means that while the facility is open, players and coaches still cannot return.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan gave the green light last week that the Ravens could open their training facility and M&T Bank Stadium. 

According to the Ravens’ release, individuals returning to team facilities are mainly from the equipment crew, football video group, and the personnel department. The team is limited to a maximum of 75 people in the building at one time. Employees must wear masks and have their temperature checked before entering the building.

Phase II of the reopening process is to allow coaches, but still not players, into the facility — as long as the state allows for it. There has not been a date set for the beginning of Phase II.

For players and coaches to be in the facility at the same time, the Ravens indicated the target for the entire team to be together is for training camp, currently slated for the end of July. 

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Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin heading to Florida to work out with Lamar

Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin heading to Florida to work out with Lamar

The importance of Miles Boykin’s second season as a Raven cannot be overstated. 

After a strong offseason last year, one that included a standout training camp, Boykin went under the radar in his 2019 campaign. He posted just 13 catches for 198 yards in 16 games and caught three touchdown passes. He was targeted only 22 times all season. 

He was the team’s eighth leading receiver, in terms of catches and yards, and was fourth in targets at the receiver position.

Now, with two more rookies in the wide receiver room, the urgency Boykin is facing is palpable. 

“I just feel like I’m getting better as an all-around player,” Boykin said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “I’m capable of a lot more, I’ll be able to play faster this year and have more chemistry with Lamar and just be able to go out there and play the game the way I want to play.”

He’ll travel to Florida next week to throw with Lamar Jackson, wide receiver Marquise Brown and a host of other Ravens, in place of offseason workouts that have been canceled. In the meantime, he’s trained with fellow second-year player in quarterback Trace McSorley, who is closer to home for Boykin -- meaning workouts are less of an ordeal to make happen. 

Chemistry for Boykin will be important, as the Ravens shipped tight end Hayden Hurst to the Falcons in the offseason and have said they could look to become more of a passing team in the future. 

But the Ravens also drafted wideouts Devin Duvernay and James Proche in April’s draft, which muddies the water as to where the increased targets can come from. 

That’s where Boykin thinks he can step in with his experience in the wide receiver group.

“When you’re younger, you worry about, ‘What do I have to do?’” Boykin said. “When you’re older, you know, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Like, 'this makes sense.' Everything starts to roll off of it. Now I’m worried about how to do things right, I’m not worried about what I need to do right. That’s part of film study that you don’t have time for during the season.”

Boykin added he won’t be shy about helping those rookie wide receivers, though, as now he’ll be one of the veterans in the room just a year removed from his rooke season.

“I would say film is going to be huge, especially during July,” Boykin said. “Even though I wasn’t participating in OTAs, I was still involved in meetings, I was doing everything else. I just couldn’t practice because I was injured. Even then, for rookies, it gets hard and stressful because you’re trying to pick up a whole new playbook. In July, you have a chance to relax a little bit, and I don’t think it’s going to be like that this year, especially for rookies.”

Despite everything, from Boykin’s confidence to knowledge of the offense, the threat of coronavirus has dampened expectations for everyone across the league in terms of what can be expected. 

That’s not Boykin’s concern, however. Whenever the 2020 season comes, if it does, he knows he’ll be ready. 

“At the end of the day, I’m still playing football -- if we have a season, obviously,” Boykin said. “It doesn’t matter where I’m playing it, who I’m playing it against, football is football. There’s going to be 11 people on each side of the ball and I just have to go out there and do my job. It doesn’t affect me as much.”

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