ENFIELD, England (AP)NFL teams that play in London tend to prefer arriving late in the week, believing it maximizes performance on Sunday.
John Harbaugh is not having it.
The Baltimore Ravens did that once before, arriving on a Friday in 2017, and got blown out 44-7 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
New plan: Get here early.
“It had a big impact because we didn’t feel like we put our best foot forward, so we were pretty much going to do something different,” the Ravens coach said Wednesday. “We weren’t going to do it the same.”
This time, the Ravens left for the British capital on Monday, giving them nearly a week to adjust and prepare for the Tennessee Titans. The AFC rivals square off Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“We’re getting settled in. We’re all sleeping just a little better than we did a day or two ago,” Harbaugh said after practice at Tottenham’s training facility north of London. “We’re getting a feel for the time, I think we’re going to be better for it.”
Bills coach Sean McDermott raised concerns about arriving last Friday to play a Jaguars team that was already in town as part of back-to-back games in London. Buffalo lost 25-20 and McDermott said his team lacked energy.
The Jags and Atlanta Falcons both arrived on the Friday before Jacksonville’s 23-7 victory two weeks ago at Wembley Stadium. The Jags had also come to London on the Friday before the 2017 game.
“There’s no science on it – teams have come over here early and done well and not done well, they’ve come over on Thursday and done well and not done well,” Harbaugh said. “Hopefully this is something that works for us.”
In the 2017 loss at Wembley, quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Ryan Mallett combined for just 64 passing yards.
Harbaugh alluded to political turmoil at the time – then-President Donald Trump had criticized players for taking a knee during the national anthem – playing a role, too. About two dozen players took a knee before the start of the game at Wembley.
“It wasn’t just coming out late. There were other factors, if you remember, that kind of were happening that I think impacted our guys’ mindset in the game,” Harbaugh said. “That’s history now and hopefully we’re better for it.”
The Titans, meanwhile, are scheduled to arrive Friday.
Ryan Tannehill, who has made several London trips, has urged teammates to ignore the time difference.
“Don’t try to look back and see what time it is back in the States,” the veteran quarterback said before practice Wednesday in Nashville. “Look at the clock, whatever time it is, that’s what it is, and tell yourself that, and just go with it.”
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who hasn’t played internationally yet, is optimistic about the adjustment.
“Us being out here early, it helped us out a lot, instead of a quick turnaround. So probably in a day or so I’ll be perfect,” he said.
Jadeveon Clowney missed practice with an illness, but Harbaugh said he’s confident the edge rusher will be ready to play Sunday. Odafe Oweh (ankle) was also absent. Safety Geno Stone (hamstring) worked out individually near the practice field.
“We’ve got some guys that are a little bit sick,” Harbaugh said when asked about Clowney. “They missed practice because they were sick.”
Offensive linemen Morgan Moses (shoulder) and Patrick Mekari (illness/chest) both returned to practice and were limited.
Odell Beckham Jr. is still feeling his ankle issue “just a little bit,” was limited in practice and “should be fine,” Harbaugh said. The wide receiver has missed two games this season. He had two catches for 13 yards in Baltimore’s 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Starting cornerback Marlon Humphrey (foot) was also limited. He missed the first four games of the season.
Harbaugh held a 45-minute team meeting Wednesday to refocus his players after a series of mistakes left them with a 3-2 record after the loss in Pittsburgh.
“Coach is feeling how we’re feeling,” Jackson said. “We should be 5-0, I believe. We’ve just got to put points on the board and protect the ball. That was one of the main things he was saying to us.”
Jackson seemed surprised local fans recognized him while he strolled around London on Tuesday.
“A few guys walked up to me and we’re like ‘Are you Lamar?’ in a London accent. I took pictures with those guys. It was fun,” he said.
“For me to have fans in London? I never dreamed about that. That’s amazing to me.”
A lot of fans, apparently. Jackson’s jersey was the second-best seller in Britain in September, trailing only Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Ravens tight end Mark Andrews came in at No. 10.
AP Pro Football Writer Teresa Walker contributed from Nashville, Tennessee.
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