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Jim, John Harbaugh ready for rematch at Super Bowl

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Jim, John Harbaugh ready for rematch at Super Bowl

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jim and John Harbaugh have exchanged a handful of text messages, and plan to leave it at that. No phone conversations necessary while the season's still going. No time for pleasantries, even for the friendly siblings.

There is work to be done to prepare for the Super Bowl, prepare for each other, prepare for a history-making day already being widely hyped as ``Harbowl'' or ``Superbaugh'' depending which nickname you prefer.

``It doesn't matter who the coach is, what relationship you have with the person on the other side,'' 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said so matter-of-factly Monday afternoon.

Their parents sure aren't picking sides for the Feb. 3 matchup in New Orleans.

These days, the Harbaughs' longtime coaching father, Jack, stays away from game-planning chatter or strategy sessions with his Super Bowl-bound coaching sons. Baltimore's John Harbaugh and little brother Jim have been doing this long enough now to no longer need dad's input.

Yet, they still regularly seek it. And, their father does offer one basic mantra: ``Get ahead, stay ahead.''

``Probably the greatest advice that I've ever been given and the only advice that I've ever found to be true in all of coaching, I think we mentioned it to both John and Jim ... the coaching advice is, `Get ahead, stay ahead,''' Jack Harbaugh said.

``If I'm called upon, I'll repeat that same message.''

His boys still call home regularly to check in with the man who turned both on to the coaching profession years ago, and the mother who has handled everything behind the scenes for decades in a highly competitive, sports-crazed family - with all the routine sports cliches to show for it.

The Harbaugh brothers will become the first siblings to square off from opposite sidelines when their teams play for the NFL championship at the Superdome.

Not that they're too keen on playing up the storyline that has no chance of going away as hard as they try.

``Well, I think it's a blessing and a curse,'' Jim Harbaugh said Monday. ``A blessing because that is my brother's team. And, also, personally I played for the Ravens. Great respect for their organization. ... The curse part would be the talk of two brothers playing in the Super Bowl and what that takes away from the players that are in the game. Every moment that you're talking about myself or John, that's less time that the players are going to be talked about.''

Both men love history, just not the kind with them making it.

``I like reading a lot of history ... I guess it's pretty neat,'' John Harbaugh offered Monday. ``But is it really going to be written about? It's not exactly like Churchill and Roosevelt or anything. It's pretty cool, but that's as far as it goes.''

Nice try, guys.

John watched the end of Jim's game from the field in Foxborough, Mass., as Baltimore warmed up for the AFC championship game. Jim called his sister's family from the team plane before takeoff after a win at Atlanta and asked how his big brother's team was doing against New England.

The improbable Super Bowl features a set of brothers known around the NFL as fierce competitors unafraid to make a bold move during the season. Unafraid to upset anyone who stands in their way.

In fact, each one made a major change midseason to get this far - John fired his offensive coordinator, while Jim boosted his offense with a quarterback switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick.

Leading up to Sunday's games, parents Jack and Jackie said they would wait to decide whether to travel to New Orleans if both teams advanced or stick to what has been working so well - watching from the comfort of their couch in Mequon, Wis.

``We enjoy it very much. We get down in our basement, turn on the television and just have a fantastic day watching outstanding football,'' Jack said last week. ``We share our misery with no one but ourselves. Not only the misery, but the ups and downs, the ins and outs of an outstanding professional game.''

And, no, the Harbaughs weren't looking ahead to a potential big trip to the Big Easy.

Jack insists his wife is quick to pull out that old sports cliche: ``It's one game at a time. I think it's very appropriate,'' he said.

Jim figures they won't possibly miss this history-making game.

``I think they'll be there,'' he said with a smile.

The brothers, separated in age by 15 months, have taken different paths to football's biggest stage - years after their intense games of knee football at the family home. They tried to beat each other at cards, or whatever other game it was at the time. Sometimes, they tried to beat each other up. Sister, Joani Crean, often got in on the fun, too.

The 49-year-old Jim never reached a Super Bowl, falling a last-gasp pass short during a 15-year NFL career as a quarterback. The 50-year-old John never played in the NFL.

Still, both will tell you, ``Who's got it better than us? No-body!'' - one catchphrase they got from their dad.

``We can't put into words what it means to see John and Jim achieve this incredible milestone,'' their brother-in-law, Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean, said on Twitter. ``We talked to Jim (before) his team plane left. All he wanted to know was how was John doing? How were they playing? One incredible family who puts the care, well-being and love for each other at the forefront like most families do. Again, we are very proud of them. Going to be exciting to watch it unfold.''

John worked his way up from the bottom of the coaching ranks, while Jim was the star college quarterback at Michigan, a first-round draft pick and eventual Pro Bowler who made coaching his career once he retired.

John already has the one-up, while Jim's team is the early favorite. John's Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 on Thanksgiving night 2011, in Jim's rookie season as an NFL coach - though both know that means nothing now.

``I just want everybody to know, that was a four-day deal and every story has been told,'' John said. ``We're not that interesting. There's nothing more to learn. The tape across the middle of the room story, OK, you got it? It's OK. It was just like any other family, really. I really hope the focus is not so much on that. We get it, it's really cool and it's exciting and all that.''

Said Jim, ``Completely new business.''

In spite of his efforts to avoid the topic, Jim did take the opportunity to express how proud he is of John.

``He's a great football coach, a real grasp of all phases - offense, defense, special teams. I think he could coordinate at least two of those phases and do it as well as anyone in the league,'' Jim said. ``I've got half the amount of coaching experience he does. Again, it's not about us. I keep coming back to that. I'm really proud of my brother. I love him. That's the blessing part, that this is happening to him.''

And, fittingly for the big brother, John feels the exact same way.

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AP Sports Writer Dave Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this story.

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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?

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Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

The Ravens announced six players placed on the physically unable to perform list Saturday - linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, linebacker Elvis Dumervil, running back Trent Richardson, and cornerback Jumal Rolle.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), and cornerback Will Davis (knee) were not placed on PUP, indicating they were ready for the team’s first full-team training camp practice Thursday.

Any player on the PUP list can be activated and return to practice at any point prior to the regular season. Once a player is placed on the regular-season PUP list, he must sit out at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

RELATED: WILL SMITH'S BODY BETRAY HIM AGAIN?

Rolle (Achilles injury) is expected to miss the entire season. Here’s the breakdown on the other five PUP list players:

Suggs – He still has not fully recovered from his season-ending Achilles injury suffered in Week 1 last September. Suggs is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday, where further details about his progress should be revealed.

Smith Sr. – Also recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury suffered in November. Smith said he would not care if he missed the entire preseason. His priority is to be ready by Week 1.

Perriman – He suffered a knee injury during minicamp which did not require season-ending surgery. However, Perriman has still not played a preseason or regular season game since being drafted in the first round in 2015. After two knee injuries in two years, the Ravens have every reason to be cautious with Perriman until they think he is ready to return.

Dumervil – He had offseason foot surgery after playing through pain last season. Dumervil missed mandatory minicamp, but did not sound concerned about being ready for Week 1.

Richardson – His lingering hamstring issue could ruin his bid for an NFL comeback. The Ravens are deep at running back, and Richardson needs to get healthy to have any chance to win a roster spot.

MORE RAVENS: FLACCO HAS LONG ODDS FOR MVP