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'Dry run' gives Harbaughs idea of what to expect

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'Dry run' gives Harbaughs idea of what to expect

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Jack and Jackie Harbaugh are spending Super Bowl week celebrating the good fortune of having two sons at the pinnacle of pro football.

Once the Super Bowl between John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens and Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers has ended this Sunday night, the parents know their first priority will be expressing sympathy to the coach who didn't get to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

``The one thing that I do think about is after the game. There is going to be one winner and there is going to be one that is going to be totally disappointed. My thoughts go to that one that will not experience the thrill of victory,'' Jack Harbaugh said. ``That's where our thoughts will be.''

Harbaugh explained that he and Jackie had a ``dry run'' on how to handle the postgame last season when the Niners lost at Baltimore on Thanksgiving night.

After leaving an office in the stadium where they watched the game - in private and emotionless - the first locker room they walked past was that of the Ravens.

``We've all experienced that excitement of victory-guys jumping up and down, the smile on John's face. They were just ecstatic. ... Then you realize that you're not needed here,'' Jack said. ``You walk across the hall, and you went into the 49ers locker room and you walked and you saw the players walking about - that look in their eyes, that look of not being successful and coming up short. We opened up a couple doors and finally saw Jim all by himself in this room, just a table and a chair. He was still in his coaching outfit. His head down in his hands and you looked into his eyes and you realized that this where you're needed as a parent.

``Every single parent can identify with that,'' he continued. ``On Sunday night, we're going to experience both of those great emotions. Our thoughts will be with the one that comes up a little short.''

Now comes the second act in New Orleans, which happens to be the home of another set of parents who can relate to watching NFL games involving two of their sons on opposing teams: the Mannings.

As it turns out, Jack Harbaugh said, Archie Manning called before the Niners-Ravens Thursday night tilt last season to offer some advice.

``The advice was this, `This will be over on Friday. I promise you it will be over on Friday,''' Harbaugh recalled. ``Sure enough it was great advice and that's exactly how it happened.''

The elder Harbaugh was a longtime coach himself, and a former assistant of Bo Schembechler at Michigan, where Jim quarterback before a playing career in the NFL, followed by a college coaching career and then his NFL head coaching debut just last season in San Francisco.

Jack credited Jackie for taking their sons to Michigan practices when they were young so they could learn about what their father did during long days at work. And he was thrilled that they wanted to play and later coach football.

Now that has put them in the spotlight in the Big Easy, where the Harbaugh parents were fittingly at ease as they sat - talk show style - in lounge chairs in front of a large crowd of international media.

Jack opened the news conference by loudly asking, rhetorically, ``Who has it better than us?''

Then he and Jackie both exclaimed, ``Nobody!''

It appeared well rehearsed because it has long been a family motto.

But when it comes to navigating the rest of Super Bowl week, they acknowledged they were neophytes, and didn't have much of a plan beyond spending time with relatives and friends. They didn't even know where they were sitting for the game. They added that both sons have simply urged them to make sure they enjoy the experience.

When asked if the knowledge that one son will lose will diminish their enjoyment of the game, Jackie Harbaugh said, ``I don't think so because we will see both of them after the game. We're going to hug both of them and tell them how proud we are of them.''

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Ravens under the Microscope: Best case, worst case for QB Joe Flacco

Ravens under the Microscope: Best case, worst case for QB Joe Flacco

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka have put 25 key Ravens under the microscope this month, forecasting a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day.

This is the final installment, ending with the Ravens’ most important and highest-paid player.

RELATED: RAVENS PLACE SIX ON PUP LIST

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Joe Flacco, 31-year-old quarterback

Best-case scenario:

Flacco enjoys his best season, becomes a more consistent regular season quarterback, and leads the Ravens to the playoffs.

Why it could happen:

Already a Super Bowl MVP, Flacco is entering what should be the prime of his career.

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees all had their best statistical seasons at age 30 or older. It’s a great sign that Flacco has recovered well enough from knee surgery to be ready for training camp. Barring any setbacks, the knee shouldn’t be an issue.  It’s also important that Flacco is working with the same coordinator, Marc Trestman, for a second straight season. Trestman and Flacco had growing pains in 2015, but they’re beginning this season with far more familiarity with each other. Meanwhile, the additions of wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Ben Watson give Flacco two additional veteran targets.

On paper, Flacco has more weapons than ever, particularly if tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Breshad Perriman are healthy enough to be factors. Flacco’s arm strength, toughness, composure in pressure situations, and ability to make every throw are hard to question.

If rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley and the rest of the offensive line give Flacco time to survey the field, the stage is set for Flacco to have his best season.

Worst-case scenario:

Flacco’s game doesn’t ascend to another level, and as a result, neither does the Ravens’ offense.

Why it could happen:

Stats aren’t everything, but Flacco has never thrown for more than 4,000 yards in a season, has never thrown for 30 touchdown passes in a season, and has never had a quarterback rating higher than 93.6, which he had in 2010.

All of that may have to change for the Ravens to make the playoffs. Flacco has been a phenomenal post-season quarterback, but it remains to be seen if he can eliminate some of his regular season valleys. The Ravens invested more heavily in Flacco during the offseason, rewarding him with a three-year, $66 million contract extension that included a $40 million signing bonus.

To whom much is given, much is expected.  

Meeting higher expectations, while bouncing back from his first major injury, is the challenge facing Flacco.

RELATED: CAN SUGGS STILL BE AN IMPACT PLAYER?

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Will Suggs still be an impact player when he comes off PUP?

Will Suggs still be an impact player when he comes off PUP?

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka are taking turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope leading up to veterans reporting to training camp. They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Terrell Suggs, 33-year-old outside linebacker

Best-case scenario:

Suggs makes a full recovery from Achilles injury and returns as a double-digit sack artist and three-down linebacker.

Why it could happen:

Suggs knows people are wondering how much quality football he has left. It’s dangerous to write off great players too soon. Suggs would love to silence skeptics with a strong season, and if some of the young Ravens pass rushers develop, they won’t have to overwork Suggs. If he stays healthy once he comes off the PUP list, a player with Suggs’ talent and experience can still be a valuable defensive leader.

Worst-case scenario:

The Achilles injury limits what Suggs can do, and he is no longer an impact player.

Why it could happen:

It’s asking a lot of Suggs to remain a cog in the Ravens’ defense, after 106 ½ career sacks, and entering his 14th NFL season. Sooner or later, the NFL road will end for Suggs, just like it ended for his former great defensive teammates like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It will be interesting to hear Suggs’ thoughts on his career when he meets with the media Wednesday. If 2016 is not Suggs’ last ride, the end of the journey is getting closer.

RELATED: FIVE YOUNG PASS RUSHERS TO WATCH

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Five young pass rushers to watch, with Suggs and Dumervil on PUP

Five young pass rushers to watch, with Suggs and Dumervil on PUP

With Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil starting training camp on the PUP list, the Ravens’ young pass rushers have an opportunity to show what they’ve got.

It’s not surprising, or overly alarming, that Suggs (Achilles) and Dumervil (foot) aren’t ready to participate in full-team practices, which begin Thursday. The priority for them is to be ready by Week 1.

But the reality is that Suggs is 33 years old and Dumervil is 32 – closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. Remember when the Ravens loaded up on pass rushers in the draft? Training camp and the preseason will shed light on which young pass rushers are ready to contribute, and which ones are not.

RELATED: RAVENS NAME SIX PLAYERS TO THE PUP LIST

Here are five young Ravens pass rushers to watch closely during training camp and the preseason:

Kamalei Correa, rookie OLB

Correa might see more time at inside linebacker as a rookie, because the Ravens are looking for a starting inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley. However, Correa’s skills as a pass-rushing outside linebacker at Boise St. convinced the Ravens he was worthy of being a second-round pick. If Correa is getting pressure on quarterbacks, the Ravens will find consistent snaps for him.

Matt Judon, rookie DE

He led the nation in sacks last season with 20 at Grand Valley State. As a fifth-round pick, Judon is making a major leap to the NFL and he is raw. But he also has size (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) and athleticism. Judon could earn an immediate role as a situational pass rusher.

Bronson Kaufusi, rookie DE

He’s huge (6-foot-6, 285 pounds). He’s mature, already 25 years old after completing a two-year Mormon mission before attending BYU. And he’s athletic, good enough to spend one season on BYU’s basketball team before focusing on football. The Ravens’ third-round pick, Kaufusi could also earn a role as a situational pass rusher.

Victor Ochi, undrafted OLB

Ochi (6-foot-1, 245 pounds) has a body build like Dumervil – powerful with a low center of gravity. The Ravens have had at least one undrafted rookie make their roster for 12 straight years. Ochi could extend that streak. He was hoping to be the first player from Stony Brook ever drafted. Now he’s hoping to prove he should have been drafted.   

Za’Darius Smith, second-year OLB

Smith finished strong as a rookie. Of his 5 ½ sacks, 3 ½ came over the final three games. According to Smith, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants 10 sacks from Smith this season. If Smith becomes a double-digit sack artist, the Ravens’ pass rush will take a major leap.

MORE RAVENS: WILL SMITH'S BODY BETRAY HIM AGAIN?