By David Zurawik
The Baltimore Sun
9:48 AM EST, January 21, 2013
Good news for Baltimore Ravens fans who have suffered through second and third string CBS coverage this season: Sunday's AFC championship game against the New England Patriots will get the full Super Bowl treatment, according to the network.
"We will have in this broadcast Sunday our whole setup that we will have down in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII - with all the cameras, with all the tape machines, with extra microphones on the field," producer Lance Barrow said during a teleconference Tuesday. "With those extra cameras we're able to cover anything that happens on the field."
Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said that in addition to the first string booth team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, the network will have two sideline reporters during Sunday's game.
During the regular season, there were no sideline reporters for Ravens games. Last week for the Denver divisional playoff, CBS added Solomon Wilcots as sideline reporter to its coverage.
The lack of sideline reporters at CBS has been a regular complaint of mine.
"We do have reporters this weekend," McManus said. "We did away with them a couple of years ago, because of a couple of reasons. One, we wanted to give our announcers more time, and we thought a Phil Simms [analyst] giving information was probably better than a sideline reporter."
However, McManus added, "I will say there are times -- and it happened to us during the playoffs a number of times with some injuries, including the [Rob] Gronkowski [Patriots tight end] injury this weekend when we had Steve Tasker on the sideline. Listen, there are times when a sideline reporter, I think, probably can get some information, so we are always re-evaluating that and certainly when it gets to the playoffs, we're always going to have sideline reporters."
Barrow said Tasker "will handle the New England Patriots sideline" and "Solomon Wilcots will handle the Baltimore Ravens sideline."
"They're really our eyes and ears as to what is going on down on the sidelines," Barrow said. "They're kind of an added bonus... If Tom Brady or Joe Flacco comes off or Ray Lewis is saying to his team, 'Let's do this or let's do that,' that's what we're trying to get out of them - to kind of be our guides down on the sidelines. And, obviously, if we have a major injury, we will try to have them there to try to find out more information than maybe what we're getting from both P.R. staffs."
Don't look for a big pre-game show, however.
The pre-game will start at 6 p.m. Sunday with the kick-off at 6:30.
"We have a short pre-game," said Harold Bryant, executive producer and vice president for production at CBS Sports. "At 6 o'clock, the emphasis is going to be what's happening onsite. You know, how are guys warming up. We're going to go out to Jim and Phil for reports. We won't have those long features that we normally do this week."
Bryant said CBS will still reach out to Lewis and Brady for taped pre-game interviews and include those -- if the players co-operate..
Personally, I am looking forward to the visuals Sunday. As I said in my review last week, there were some outstanding images from the Ravens epic victory over the Broncos.
Here's hoping for great coverage. You know, I'll be complaining if it's anything less. We have suffered enough.
Correction: An earlier version had an incorrect title for Sean McManus.
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