Harbaugh brothers could envision working together

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Harbaugh brothers could envision working together

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Working separately, John and Jim Harbaugh each guided their team to the Super Bowl. They will be on opposite sidelines Sunday, John as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens and Jim with the San Francisco 49ers.

Imagine how effective they could be if working together.

At their joint news conference Friday, someone asked the brothers if they would consider teaming up if either should be forced out of his current post.

``No question about it,'' John said. ``We've had that conversation in the past. It just never really worked out timing-wise. I'd love to work for Jim. It would be the greatest thing in the world.''

Jim, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, said, ``Definitely, I would work for him.''

Super Bowl tradition dictates that the coaches meet with the media separately two days before the Super Bowl. That custom was altered Friday because, after all, two brothers have never before coached against each other in the Super Bowl.

Wearing a dark suit, white shirt, striped tie and laced business shoes, John settled into a director's chair behind a Ravens helmet. Jim, wearing a 49ers hat, a sweat shirt, khaki pants and running shoes, sat in an identical chair behind a San Francisco helmet.

Calling it ``an exciting moment,'' John ticked off the names of family members in attendance, including his parents. They posed for pictures with grandfather Joe Cipiti on the stage afterward, too.

Jack Harbaugh, their father, was a successful college coach. His sons followed in his footsteps, but on different paths. There was one time, however, when the routes nearly merged.

``We almost made it happen at Stanford at one time,'' John said. ``It would be an honor to have him on the staff. He's a great coach. You always try to get great coaches, and there are none better than Jim Harbaugh, and I mean that seriously. There's no better coach in the National Football League than this guy right here.''

To which Jim added, ``Well, Jack Harbaugh.''

The family coaching tree could run even deeper one day. Jim's son, Jay, works for John as a coaching intern with the Ravens.

``He's far better than we've anticipated, and I knew he would be great at what he does,'' John said.

The brothers obviously had a lot of fun with the situation, joking with each other and sometimes acting like a comedy team.

Someone asked them to list their commonalities and philosophical differences.

``I would be hard-pressed to spell philosophical right now,'' Jim said.

``I know he can't spell commonalities,'' John said, not missing a beat.

Although Jack Harbaugh has received much of the credit for molding the boys into coaches, the brothers revealed that their mother, Jackie, also had a great deal of influence on their growth into men.

``There is no one in the family who has more competitive fire than my mother. She competes like a maniac. She has just always believed in us, and I think that is the most important thing to me. She believed in me, John, and Joanie, and took us to games and played catch with us, shot baskets with us, and just believed in us.''

``No one would fight harder for us than our mom, no matter what the situation was, or teach us how to have each other's back and be there for one another,'' John said. ``We may have been talking football with dad in the basement, but mom was talking about other things. There were a lot of things going on in our world during the `70s, and Mom was always tuned in on those kinds of things.''

Someone asked the brothers whether they considered how they will handle the postgame handshake. Jim Harbaugh enraged Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz for giving him a quick handshake and a hard backslap after a 2011 game, but that certainly won't be an issue Sunday night.

``I've given absolutely no consideration to the postgame hand shake or bear hug or anything else,'' John said. ``I haven't thought about that for one second. Have you, Jim?''

``I have not,'' Jim confirmed.

Three things to know about Ravens sixth-round pick Keenan Reynolds

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Three things to know about Ravens sixth-round pick Keenan Reynolds

We are profiling the Ravens’ draft picks as they prepare to start minicamp Friday. Here are three things to know about sixth-round pick, WR Keenan Reynolds of Navy:

1. The biggest push to draft Reynolds came from assistant general manager Eric DeCosta.

DeCosta, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and coach John Harbaugh were visibly moved talking about making the phone call to Reynolds. All of them admire the way Reynolds has handled himself at Navy, both on and off the field.

When Newsome made the call, he put Reynolds on speaker phone so that everyone could hear his reaction. “Everyone in the room could be a part of telling him that we picked him,” Newsome said. “It was a special moment.”

2. Reynolds is much more than just a symbolic pick.

The Ravens believe Reynolds can stick as a punt returner, and that he has the athleticism and work ethic to become a polished slot receiver. Reynolds has many qualities inherent to top punt returners – good judgment, vision, elusiveness, sure hands, and speed. The Ravens also like that Reynolds has been working with CSN’s Brian Mitchell, a former Pro Bowl punt returner with the Redskins.

“Fortunately, we have a great relationship with Brian Mitchell,” DeCosta said. “We did our homework on him. He’s a guy that was a player of interest to us throughout the process. We kept it very quiet and, and it worked out the right way.”

 3. The Ravens are willing to wait if military obligations prevent Reynolds from playing right away.

Naval Academy graduates are obligated to a five-year military term, but Reynolds has hope of being able to play this fall. The Patriots drafted Navy graduate Joe Cardona last year as a long snapper, and he was granted permission to play. Cardona spent one day a week working at a Rhode Island naval facility. Reynolds hoped a similar arrangement could be worked out for him.

“I’m hoping and praying, and I’m confident that this potentially could be the same type of situation with myself,” Reynolds said. “It’s a blessing that the Ravens felt I was worthy to take a chance on with the military obligation and my service commitment.”

Will Matt Elam make Ravens in 2016 after fifth-year option declined?

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Will Matt Elam make Ravens in 2016 after fifth-year option declined?

It was no surprise the Ravens did not pick up the fifth-year option on safety Matt Elam by Monday’s deadline. The bigger question is whether Elam even makes the team next season.

The 32nd pick in the 2013 draft, Elam has been one of the biggest first-round busts in team history. Some of the standout players who went after Elam in that draft include Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short (44th), Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (48th), and Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins (52nd).

Elam missed all of last season with a torn biceps, after underperforming in 2013 and 2014. Elam was a big hitter in college at Florida, but has struggled with missed tackles as a Raven, and has been even worse in pass coverage. With the Ravens acquiring safety Eric Weddle in free agency, and Lardarius Webb switching from cornerback to safety, Elam is expected to be a backup at best. He will compete with Terrence Brooks, Kendrick Lewis, and others for a backup role.

Elam is scheduled to make $1.327 million next season, before becoming a free agent in 2017.  However, Elam’s first priority is to secure his place with the Ravens in 2016.  

AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

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AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

The Ravens can expect to see Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison as an opponent again in 2016. Harrison confirmed on his Instagram account Monday that he would return for another season.

Harrison will turn 38 years old Wednesday (May 4), but he was still effective in 2015 with five sacks and 40 tackles playing in the Steelers’ linebacker rotation. With his announcement that he was returning, Harrison wrote “I’m feeling just like a fine wine. Getting better with age.”

Despite Harrison’s age, the Steelers believe they got younger and better on defense through the draft. Five of the Steelers’ seven picks were on defense – cornerback Artie Burns (first round), safety Sean Davis (second), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (third round), outside linebacker Travis Feeney (sixth round), and inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich (seventh round).  

Clearly, there will be plenty of new names in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, with both teams looking to get younger and faster. However, Harrison plans to be part of the mix for at least another season. The Ravens host the Steelers in Week 9, and visit the Steelers on Christmas afternoon.

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