NEW ORLEANS — One strike and you’re out.
That was the case with Tulane University’s makeshift practice field, which was acting as the Baltimore Ravens’ facility in preparation for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII against San Francisco.
The Ravens practiced on 80 yards of FieldTurf on the Green Wave’s baseball field Wednesday before players complained of soreness from the hard surface. So Baltimore did its walkthrough Thursday at Tulane, then moved to the grass practice fields at the Saints’ practice facility for its one-hour, 25-minute practice.
The AFC champions practiced on the 80-yard turf field Wednesday because construction on the Green Wave’s new on-campus stadium has made the practice field unavailable.
“Well, a lot of guys actually iced up last night, got in the cold tub and everything else,” safety Bernard Pollard said Thursday. “Just so you don’t get the swelling or the fluid in the knees from pounding on the hard turf. ... Guys with knee problems, ankle problems and all the other stuff, you don’t want to have to deal with that for the rest of the week and then try to have to clear all of that out of your system to have to go play on Sunday.”
The Ravens were complimentary of the Tulane staff doing everything it could to make them welcome on campus.
“The people at Tulane — it has really been incredible what they’ve done there,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They’re building a new stadium — an on-campus, 30,000-seat stadium. It’s going to be first-class; it’s going to be beautiful. The people are so nice, so professional. Everything has been great at Tulane. The facility is under construction right now, so that’s a little bit tough.”
All 53 of the Ravens participated fully in practice for the second consecutive day. Harbaugh called the workout “a very normal, late-season Thursday practice.’’
The Ravens will hold their final full practice of the week Friday afternoon, again at the Saints’ facility.
Leach holds the key
Ravens fullback Vonta Leach was briefly a member of the Saints during coach Sean Payton’s first season in 2006. Leach was inactive for two games before being released. He later played with Houston before finding a home in Baltimore.
Leach, who started his career as an undrafted free agent with Green Bay in 2004, signed with the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent before last season.
“One thing about Vonta is he’s a fullback,” running back Ray Rice said. “I think it’s one of the most under-recognized positions in the game because of all the physical abuse he does to his body to see another man shine. The fullback position is not a pretty job.”
Leach was selected for the Pro Bowl for the third time.
“Vonta wants that responsibility to go out there and just knock people out for me and Bernard (Pierce) to go out there and be successful,” Rice said. “He’s done it for many backs over the years. Look at what he’s done for Arian Foster (in Houston). They often vouch for him. Linebackers around the league know he’s coming for them.”
Quote to note
Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta was asked how it would feel to play against a brother in the Super Bowl, the way the Harbaugh brothers are coaching against each other Sunday:
“I would have to play against my sister,” he said, “because I don’t have a brother.”