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Super Bowl 2013: Pool Reports from 49ers and Ravens Practices

One of the interesting things that happens in the build up toward the Super Bowl are the Pro Football Writers of American pool reports. Basically, the NFL selects one reporter to attend practice for the AFC Champions and one for the NFC Champions. Those two reporters then file their reports out to the media for use.

Scott Halleran

With the Super Bowl just days away, it's time for the annual practice reports from the "pool reporters." Essentially, the NFL selects one Pro Football Writers of America reporter to atted the practices of the NFC Champions, and annother for the AFC Champions. The reporters get a chance to observe practice, report on injuries and provide some general comments. That report is then sent out to the rest of the media. I've posted those reports below. Although there isn't much to be had from the reports, it is still interesting to see anybody get additional access to team practices - particularly two teams this close to playing for the NFL championship.

This year, the writers are SI's Peter King, who atteded the Baltimore Ravens practice yesterday, and ESPN's John Clayton, who shadowed the San Francisco 49ers durig yesterday's workout. Here are their official reports.

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013

Baltimore Ravens Practice Pool Report

By Peter King

Pro Football Writers of America

NEW ORLEANS—Two key starters nursing injuries for the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and tight end Dennis Pitta, ran and practiced well Wednesday afternoon at Tulane University as the Ravens opened on-field preparations for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII against San Francisco.It’s unlikely that either player will miss the Super Bowl. Pitta has a thigh injury but moved freely during the workout. Ellerbe, who starts next to Ray Lewis in the Ravens’ 3-4 alignment, ran without a limp. “I’m definitely playing in this game,’’ Ellerbe said at Super Bowl media day on Tuesday.

While the NFC champ 49ers worked out at the Saints’ facility across town in Metairie, the Ravens practiced for one hour and 55 minutes on a makeshift 80-yard field stretching across the FieldTurf outfield, from foul pole to foul pole, at Tulane’s Greer Field baseball diamond. And while the Niners worked out inside the Saints’ indoor facility to prepare for a game that will be played in a wind-free domed stadium, Baltimore’s passing game—with deep-throwing quarterback Joe Flacco—dealt with wind gusts in New Orleans up to 24 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.Baltimore had the option of working out at the Saints’ indoor facility late in the afternoon or early Wednesday evening, after the 49ers finished their work. That would have negated the impact of the wind. But Harbaugh said he and the players preferred to practice on schedule in mid-afternoon.

Flacco had a sharp practice, hitting wideout Torrey Smith on one deep touchdown thrown through a crosswind. Flacco also hit Anquan Boldin in tight coverage on a perfectly thrown ball downfield. Judging by one practice in difficult conditions, it appeared that the 10-day layoff since Baltimore’s last game has not affected the quarterback who has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the Ravens’ 3-0 playoff run.

“We had a great practice,’’ said coach John Harbaugh as his players left the field late Wednesday afternoon. “We didn’t like the wind, but we got all of our work done. Spirits are high. They looked great."

“Our players are upbeat and happy," said Harbaugh. “They don’t complain about anything.”

On hand to watch practice was the CBS game and pre-game crew, including Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher and former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe, who exchanged warm greetings with Ray Lewis and several coaches and members of the organization. The league allows the TV crew doing the game to observe one afternoon of practice for each team during the practice week.

The Ravens will resume practice Thursday afternoon at Tulane.

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013

San Francisco 49ers Practice Pool Report

By John Clayton

Pro Football Writers of America

NEW ORLEANS—Winds from the aftermath of a Wednesday storm sent the San Francisco 49ers into the New Orleans Saints indoor practice facility for their first full practice in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.

But the 49ers also breezed through the 95-minute session so efficiently that head coach Jim Harbaugh got through all of his team’s work with approximately 15 minutes to spare. To say the least, the practice was spirited and focused.

"We were going to go outside and practice but the winds were a little too much," Harbaugh said. "We were worried about taking the lifts (for team photographers) too high. The winds were 20 to 25 miles an hour and we don’t want to send our guys up there in those conditions."

The weird site was seeing the practice with a Sean Payton "Do Your Job" picture overlooking every 49er play. Harbaugh, in fact, stood near an endzone in which a Saints World Championship picture hung proudly above him, and Harbaugh had no problem with that.

"We’re in their house," Harbaugh said. "We try to respect their hospitality."

Despite the winds, the 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens got a break when the rainy weather cleared up before noon. Lines of storm cells went through Southern Louisiana with heavy rain and threats of bad winds Wednesday morning, causing the NFL to make arrangements for indoor facilities for both teams if needed.

The 49ers are training at the Saints headquarters in Metairie, La, but they had no worries because the Saints have an indoor practice facility. Because Tulane University doesn’t have an indoor practice area, the Ravens would have been forced to practice at the Saints complex, which would have put both Harbaughs in the same practice facility on the same afternoon five days before Super Bowl.

Thanks to the improving weather, each Harbaugh had their separate practices on time. The 49ers would have had to move their practice up an hour to accommodate but that wasn’t needed.

"The Ravens had access to it,’’ Harbaugh said. ``That would have been no trouble at all."

The 49ers had all 53 players on the field, but linebacker Ahmad Brooks (shoulder) and Aldon Smith (shoulder) were limited. Tight end Garrett Celek, who missed some time last week with a foot injury, practiced without limitation.

Responding to reports from the Wednesday interview session that Brooks has an AC Joint sprain, Harbaugh said, "I don’t get into what those guys have. If they want to give that information, that’s fine. I always feel uncomfortable saying what a player has."

The 49ers worked on all aspects of their game - offense, defense and special teams.

"I thought our guys were excited to get out here on the practice field," Harbaugh said. "The team understands a lot more about the Super Bowl. But they were excited to get out there on the field and do what they do."

Harbaugh once again praised the focus on this team.

"That is something we don’t coach them up on, not bringing cameras or video cameras, no doing it or not doing it." Harbaugh said. "We trust our team because that’s who we are. This is the most focused group on unity and winning I’ve been around."

A similar practice is scheduled for Thursday.