Notebook: Harbaugh era set to launch

OWINGS MILLS -- The John Harbaugh era will officially launch at home against an AFC North rival. In Harbaugh's regular-season debut as the Baltimore Ravens' coach, the team begins its schedule against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 7 at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens haven't had a home opener since 2005. Plus, they conclude their schedule at home Dec. 28 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"It's exciting to start at home," Harbaugh said. "I think that's big. To start the season and to finish the season at home, I think that's going to give our fans a chance to make a difference for our football team this year."

Despite coming off a 5-11 campaign and finishing last in the division, half of the Ravens' schedule is against defending playoff squads as they face the NFC East and the AFC South in addition to their traditional AFC North slate.

On Nov. 16, the Ravens travel to play the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

However, the Ravens do have the advantage of playing three of their final four games at home and were assigned a later bye week than usual: Nov. 9. One of those late games marks the Washington Redskins' first regular-season game at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 7.

The Ravens were awarded two prime-time games, including a Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sept. 29. It's nearly one year removed from the Ravens being routed 38-7 by Pittsburgh in another ESPN appearance.

Baltimore is scheduled to play the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium on Dec. 20 in a Saturday night NFL Network game.

During the meat of their schedule, the Ravens will contend with five road contests during a two-month span.

And the Ravens will immediately see how they stack up in the AFC North with three of their first four games against division opponents.

"We get some of those guys early right out of the gate, which is going to be exciting," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be a tough, demanding schedule, and we're looking forward to it."

SUGGS UPDATE: General manager Ozzie Newsome said that no date has been set for franchise player Terrell Suggs' arbitration hearing. With $814,000 at stake, Suggs filed a grievance against the Ravens over whether he should be classified as a defensive end or an outside linebacker.

He's currently scheduled to be paid $8.065 million, the average of the top five linebacker salaries. The Ravens have been negotiating with Suggs' agent to try to strike a long-term deal since last year.

MOVING FORWARD: Newsome said that he hasn't spoken to offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden in a few weeks regarding his plans on whether to retire, but emphasized that impending decision won't affect the Ravens' draft plans.

Ogden has repeatedly said he's leaning toward retirement due to a nagging turf toe injury and has told the team to proceed as if he's not going to play again.

"Jonathan may or may not retire," Newsome said. "That doesn't have to factor into the equation."

PRESEASON SCHEDULE: The dates for the Ravens' preseason schedule were announced, playing Aug. 7 at the New England Patriots, an Aug. 16 home game against the Minnesota Vikings, at the St. Louis Rams on Aug. 23 and at home Aug. 28 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Although dates are subject to change, the Ravens are tentatively scheduled to report to training camp at McDaniel College on July 21 with the first practice the next day before breaking camp Aug. 16.

WARMING UP: Harbaugh is slated to throw out the first pitch prior to the Baltimore Orioles' game Sunday against the New York Yankees.

"I have a 6-year-old girl and she's going to be catching for me tonight," Harbaugh said. "I'm definitely toeing the rubber. I'm not walking up halfway or anything, I'm definitely going the full 60 feet, 6 inches.

"There are going to be some Yankees fans in the house, so I'm appealing to the Baltimore fans. We have to have you. Bring those cheers! It's going to be a fastball."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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