It was the pause that refreshes. When the Ravens broke camp for their bye week, they were battered from the physical toll of the first four games. When they came back to Owings Mills this week, they were buzzing with renewed vigor.
"You [can] see all the energy in the locker room," defensive end Cory Redding said on Monday. "Everybody's having fun. We're back to what we love to do. This is a kid's game and we're just a bunch of grown, big old kids playing the game we've loved since we were able to put on the pads."
Redding, who attended a wedding outside of Austin, Tex., during the bye week, said it was important to get away from football – physically and mentally – after a tough, early-season schedule that included depleting wins over the Steelers and Jets.
"You get some of the pounding off you for a bit, you take your mind off the game a bit," Redding said. "You can be around people you love. I hung out more with my kids."
Center Matt Birk took his family to Naples, Fla., for a four-day vacation and savored the family time.
"It's four days where there's no football, just family time and that time is so precious," Birk said. "It's the only four days we're going to have from the start of the season until the end of the season, so you really cherish it, look forward to it. When it happens, it's awesome."
Birk, a 14-year NFL veteran, suggested that players perhaps were more comfortable back at the complex.
"Football players won't admit it, but we're creatures of habit, creatures of routine," he said. "And as much as we long for that time off, in a way, you're kind of like a prisoner that spent 30 years in jail, then you got let go, and it's hard to reassimilate in society like normal people. It's best for us to have schedules and routines, people telling us where to be and at what time. That's where we thrive as football players."
With 12 games left, Redding spoke of a big finish.
"All our goals are still in hand," he said. "We have a great team right now with great chemistry. We look forward to going out and finishing a year [where] we want to make something happen."