By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
9:13 PM EST, February 2, 2013
NEW ORLEANS --
It was an extremely quick trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the Ravens during their final walkthrough practice heading into Sunday night's Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers.
How quick? The Ravens were on the field for just 15 minutes, according to a pool report.
And the workout wasn't much of a workout as roughly 600 family members were allowed to be on the field with the players and coaches.
That included Janet Rice, the mother of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, on the sideline. Rice playfully tackled his mother.
Baltimore Colts Hall of Fame running back Lenny Moore attended the practice, which ended with free safety Ed Reed taking the entire team and a few coaches through conditioning drills.
"It's the kind of foundation of everything we do,'' said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who was joined on the field by his daughter, Alison. "That has been the whole story line of the whole week. In a sense that's how we did it growing up, when we were kids. We grew up around dad's teams. Most of the time in the NFL it's not that way. Most of the time there is the separation of families and it's considered to be a distraction.
"I just think the opposite. For me, it's a distraction when people are more worried about their families not being allowed to be a part of it. When the families are included, the kids get to the know the players, and I think guys have a better sense of well being. I think this is a good example of it right here.''
Harbaugh characterized the practice week in New Orleans as a positive one.
The Ravens did shift practice operations to the New Orleans Saints' practice facility after one day of practice at Tulane University due to players' concerns about the hard artificial turf on a converted baseball diamond.
"The word I would use is, effective," Harbaugh said. "We have been very effective. We've gotten everything we've needed to get done, that's the No. 1 thing. But it what was not without some adversity, which is always a good thing.
"With all the stuff we've been through this year, it just seemed like a minor bump in the road. Nothing you can't plow right through and make it work. Usually when stuff like that happens it works out better. I think in some ways it worked out better for us. It has benefited us in some way.''
Harbaugh was referring to his team's initial practice venue in New Orleans, Tulane University, where the Ravens worked only once on a makeshift football field at the school's baseball stadium."
The Ravens and 49ers, who are coached by Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh's younger brother, shared the Saints' practice facility on Thursday and Friday.
"The league has an obligation and a desire to make sure the competitive playing field is fair,'' John Harbaugh said. "I appreciate Jim cooperating with us. He was great about it. We were great with each other about it. Tulane was great about it, and the league was great about it and, ultimately, made it fair for everybody.''
The Ravens are remaining at their downtown hotel Saturday night instead of shifting to another location.
"Everybody will be involved in our message tonight (at the team meeting),'' Harbaugh said. "That will be us being us. We have great Saturday night meetings. I think the message we deliver will tie together the season, it will tie together where we've been and we'll also make a statement about where we're going in this 60-minute football game.''
The 49ers had a quick workout as well, stretching and playing catch for roughly 15 minutes.
"We wanted to come over," Harbaugh said. "And the football part of it is getting used to the lights. They looked a little brighter than the last time we were down here."
The last time the 49ers were here was a 31-21 win over the Saints as quarterback Colin Kaepernick got his first NFL start.
Jim Harbaugh joined quarterbacks Kaepernick and Alex Smith throwing passes to players from every position group.
"Also, wanted to get a stretch, get the blood moving a little bit," Harbaugh said. "And get some new blood going. Then, afterward, enjoy it with your family. Get some pictures and make it possible for everybody to come down to the Super Bowl field."
How is Kaepernick handling the pressure?
"I don't see any change, one way or the other," Harbaugh said. "He is who he is. He has been pretty steady with his demeanor."
The 49ers have team meetings tonight.
"I feel good," Harbaugh said. "The preparation has been outstanding, very focused. The players care about winning. They care about this team, and that's complimentary to the players and the way their focus has been.
"And that's not something that's been just this week. That wasn't just created this week. That's been all season and the offseason. It speaks very highly of the players."