With no turf field outside their facility and snow covering their grass practice fields, the Ravens sought to replicate the potential conditions in Saturday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium as much as possible.
So, they opened their doors.
The Ravens practiced Thursday in their indoor facility with the doors opened to the outside and temperatures in the fieldhouse got as low as 31 degrees, which is significantly warmer than it’s expected to be in Foxborough, Mass., late Saturday afternoon.
Early forecasts call for a low temperature of 10 degrees on Saturday evening, though no precipitation is expected.
“It's better to practice in the temperatures if you can. It's good for us,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “The situation is what it is. It’s not worth even contemplating. We don’t have a turf field [outside] here.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had his team practice outside in Gillette Stadium Thursday despite the fact that temperatures were frigid enough for some schools in Massachusetts to be closed.
“We’re playing outside, we’re practicing outside,” Belichick told reporters. “Whatever we practice in, I'm sure at some point we'll play in. We've practiced in everything this year: hot, cold, windy, still, day, night, rain. Whatever it is, it is."
Asked if practicing outside all week could benefit the Patriots, Ravens tight end Owen Daniels said: “If those guys are practicing like they’d be playing and not all bundled up, maybe. Otherwise, you are layered up. We did our little thing in here today with the doors open. It wasn’t that bad in there. I tried to simulate it with no sleeves. Everyone’s got their own train of thought on how that works or not.”
Several Ravens vowed to wear no sleeves under their jerseys for Saturday’s game with veteran middle linebacker Daryl Smith calling it a “mind set.”
"It's going to be cold and we've just got to focus on going and playing ball, no matter what the elements, if it's rain, snow, whatever it is," Smith said. "We've got a job to do and that should be our only focus."
Said reserve safety Matt Elam: "It’s a playoff game, so I don’t think weather will be a factor. It’s cold, we know it’s going to be cold. But I don’t feel like that messes with preparation, though."