Harbaugh, Ravens not concerned about rust because of playoff bye

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens coach John Harbaugh was not interested in getting into the rest vs. rust debate.

The playoff bye provides Harbaugh with extra time to prepare for the next opponent and for his players to recover from their injuries.

However, some argue that extra time off can also hurt in keeping a routine.

“It’s not really about that, I don’t think,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to have a great week of practice and try to get better in every single area and get sharper. One of the things we talked about was, ‘Be your own biggest critic,’ and in terms of being your own biggest critic this week and trying to improve in every area you can, you’re also your own biggest advocate.

“So, advocate for yourself by being critical of yourself, and try to do the best you can to become as good as you can or better this week in terms of making improvements, and then we’ll be ready and prepared for what’s ahead of us.”

The Ravens finished the regular season 13-4 and earned a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. They also earned a first-round bye, and home-field advantage, in 2019 and were upset by the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Harbaugh didn’t think the team was rusty for that game, but he is taking a different approach to the team’s practice schedule.

Several players have said they’re going to take advantage of the extra time off to get healthy and to get a mental break from the regular season.

The players are not concerned about the layoff.

“We’ve done such a good job of – credit to the vets – creating somewhat of a playoff atmosphere every week throughout the year,” said safety Kyle Hamilton, who was recently named NFL All-Pro in his second year. “I feel like it’s been somewhat of a seamless transition the past week, not even the past week, just the past couple of days just getting to the playoffs. It’s a blessing to have this bye week … and just get our minds right for the road ahead.

“But Lamar [Jackson], Roquan [Smith] [and] everybody who’s a leader on this team has done a good job of just … The intensity ramps up a little more, and it’s win or go home at this point, and I know we all don’t want to go home right now, and we know we have a championship to win.”

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