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Harbaugh parents could become Super Bowl TV stars

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Harbaugh parents could become Super Bowl TV stars

NEW YORK (AP) Jack and Jackie Harbaugh would do well to practice their impassive faces in front of a mirror before the Super Bowl.

The parents of Baltimore Ravens coach John and the San Francisco 49ers' Jim Harbaugh will be watched closely during Sunday's Super Bowl - if anybody finds them - for any visual evidence that mommy and daddy really do love one boy or the other best.

It promises to be a fascinating sidebar to CBS' coverage of the game because, as Lynn and Rick Raisman can attest, parent cams are valuable in sports coverage. NBC's clip of the Raismans watching daughter Aly perform on the uneven bars during last summer's Olympics in London went viral, with stage parents everywhere relating to their murmurs and facial contortions.

``I had no idea it was going to be so great,'' said David Michaels, senior producer at NBC Sports, who often produces and directs coverage of gymnastics and figure skating, events where parental involvement can be particularly intense.

Michaels makes it a point to know where parents are sitting during competitions, tracking them through spotters or sometimes sports governing bodies that know where parent seats have been assigned. Or where they are not sitting: Sometimes a dad who retreats to a concession stand because he can't bear to watch an offspring compete is a good story, too.

Michaels said he tries not to overdo it, sticking with parents who he knows are interesting and very involved in their children's competitive undertakings.

``It has certainly gotten more ubiquitous,'' he said. ``Sometimes it's fantastic and sometimes it's just too gratuitous.''

Jack, a former college and high school football coach, and his wife will be attending the Super Bowl. On a conference call last week, the parents said they did not know where they would be sitting. Even if they did, they'd be unlikely to inform a horde of reporters about their seat locations.

The senior Harbaugh was a college head coach at Western Michigan and Western Kentucky and an assistant at several places, including Michigan, Pittsburgh and Stanford. His son-in-law, Tom Crean, is the Indiana University men's basketball coach. It doesn't seem like a family that would want to watch a game casually while piling their plates with nachos.

The couple had a practice run to see what it would be like to watch their sons coach against each other on Thanksgiving 2011, when older brother John's Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6.

During that game, the couple watched in an office. Jack said his wife's face looked ``nearly comatose'' throughout the contest.

``She just stared at the screen,'' he said. ``Not a word was spoken. And at the end of the game, it was just over.''

They'll experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat - all at once. A 75-yard touchdown pass that would be reason to stand up and cheer for one son is another son's horrible defensive lapse.

``I am going to be neutral in the game,'' Jackie Harbaugh said. ``I know one is going to win and one is going to lose, but I would really like to end in a tie. Can the NFL do that?''

CBS Sports President Sean McManus said there will be a pregame feature about the familial battle. It would be hard to argue otherwise; no matter how much the brothers want to downplay it, it's a unique situation. But McManus said CBS would try not to let it dominate its coverage of the game.

Given the need for the coaches' parents to stay neutral, longtime TV critic David Bianculli said he wondered how much of a story it will be visually for CBS. If they really maintain impassive faces, how much will viewers want to see them on the screen?

``I would advise them to pay attention to the field, more than anything else,'' said Bianculli, who teaches about television for Rowan University.

A stone face is a story, too, Michaels said. The only question is how much a producer should go back to the shot.

He said he can't imagine CBS not knowing where the couple is. If they're out in public, the network will likely keep a close eye on their reactions.

``As a producer or a director in this kind of a situation, it's incumbent upon you to know where every element of the story is because you never know how it's going to evolve,'' Michaels said.

Finding the right approach ultimately shouldn't be much of a problem for CBS, he said.

``It's a little bit of a distraction at times,'' he said. ``But they'll figure out the best way to deal with it. The pictures won't lie.''

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AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp on Saturday, the first practice with players wearing pads:

1. Running back Terrance West looks slimmer, quicker, and impressive both running and pass catching.

West had another strong day of practice, and got plenty of reps with both Kenneth Dixon (knee) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) still out. Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Dixon are considered locks to make the 53-man roster. But West, a former Towson star and Baltimore product, could finally be realizing his potential after disappointing stops with the Browns and Titans. West could force the Ravens to keep four running backs, in addition to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

2. Keenan Reynolds needs to step up his performance at wide receiver.

A host of wide receivers are performing better than Reynolds, who is trying to transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. Reynolds had a couple of drops the first three days of practice, and has been unable to get open consistently. Meanwhile, wide receiver Chris Matthews had another strong day, as did Michael Campanaro. Reynolds can help the Ravens as a returner, but they have other players who can fill that role. For Reynolds to secure a roster spot, he needs to show he can help the Ravens as a receiver. Otherwise, the Ravens will face a difficult decision regarding Reynolds, a local fan favorite.

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3. The way Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr are performing, the Ravens may not need to sign a veteran inside linebacker.

Correa had a sparkling one-handed interception Saturday, showing his hands and athleticism. Orr has been reading plays quickly and keeping himself around the football. Even if Correa wins the job at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley, there could be reps for Orr as well, giving the Ravens a promising young combo.

4. Saturday was not a crisp day for the offense.

The defense was the better unit, as the offense looked sloppy at times. There were a couple of bad snaps out of the shotgun from center Jeremy Zuttah, and a few false starts from the offensive line. There is plenty of time for cleanup before Week 1, but it’s not what the coaches want to see.

5. QB Joe Flacco and TE Dennis Pitta continued to look good.

Saturday made three straight days of practice for Flacco with no noticeable limping or discomfort. Flacco may be wearing a red jersey, but there have been no red flags regarding his surgically-repaired knee. Meanwhile, Pitta took a solid hit from Orr while attempting to make a catch, but Pitta jumped right to his feet. This was another good day for Pitta in his comeback from his second major hip injury.

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DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan left Saturday’s practice early, while rookie wide receiver Chris Moore did not practice.  Coach John Harbaugh did not meet with the media after practice, and no reason was immediately given for either absence. ESPN reported that Jernigan suffered a minor rib area strain that was not considered serious.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers took the field for this first training camp practice, after finally passing the conditioning test. Powers was the lone player remaining who had not passed the test.

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In addition to the five players on the PUP list, tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) did not practice.

In a roster move, the Ravens signed punter Michael Palardy to fill their open roster spot. Sam Koch, a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, is firmly entrenched as the Ravens’ punter. However, Palardy can take practice reps while the Ravens work their punt returners, reducing some of the strain on Koch’s leg.

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Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

OWINGS MILLS - One of Marshal Yanda’s top priorities is to make sure the offensive line does its best to keep Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco healthy, unlike 2015, when Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury. Having made five straight Pro Bowls as a right guard, Yanda is beginning his 10th NFL season, and his ninth season with Flacco as his quarterback. Yanda knows that much of the Ravens’ offensive success depends on Flacco staying healthy.

“We haven’t really talked about it specifically,” Yanda said. “But obviously, you know as an offensive line, we talk about it, and you coach it. You’re going to keep your guys as far away from the quarterback as possible. Obviously, there is probably more emphasis this year with the knee.”

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When Flacco sees game action for the first time this season, Yanda doesn’t expect his quarterback to play tentatively due to his knee.

“He’s going to have to make his read,” Yanda said. “We have certain plays where he is going to be on the move, no matter what. We know about it: it is conscious in my mind; it is conscious in the offensive line’s mind and his mind, too. I feel like he just has to play through that. I had a knee (injury) once before, and he just has to get reps and get comfortable with the way it is feeling now. It will always feel a little different. That is just normal. It will continue to get normal as he keeps playing.”