OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Brandon Carr knows all about playing an NFL game in London, so he’s been a source of information this week for his Baltimore Ravens teammates preparing to make the trip for the first time.
The Ravens (2-0) leave for England on Thursday night. They will practice there Friday and Saturday before facing the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) on Sunday at historic Wembley Stadium.
“I told the guys to embrace the different culture,” Carr said Wednesday. “The food is going to taste different, the soda is going to taste different, even the ketchup.”
“They don’t use all the artificial stuff that we use here, so their stuff may be more healthy,” guessed Carr, who played in London as a member of the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.
Guard Tony Bergstrom will be subbing for injured right guard Marshal Yanda this week, no small task for a player with four career starts over three-plus NFL seasons. For that reason, and because he’s been to London previously, Bergstrom’s focus abroad will be entirely on football.
“I did it once before with the Raiders, been to Mexico City with the Texans. It’s a business trip,” Bergstrom said. “The first time I went there, it was kind of a big deal. You go all over. But really, you’re flying there to win a game.”
Still, his visit was memorable.
“The hotel we stayed at, it looked like Hogwarts,” Bergstrom said, referring to the Scottish castle and school of wizardry from the Harry Potter series.
His most sound advice to teammates involved getting ready for the five-hour time difference, which extends beyond the fact that the 2:30 p.m. kickoff in London is 9:30 a.m. in Baltimore.
“Start sleeping now. Start trying to get that clock set early,” Bergstrom said. “The biggest thing is, once you’re there, whatever time it is, that’s what time it is. You kind of just figure it out.”
Sounds simple, but the Ravens organization spent a half-hour stressing the importance of getting plenty sleep early in the week to make up the difference.
“That was part of the plan,” coach John Harbaugh said, who acknowledged he didn’t adhere to the blueprint. “I wanted to do it the right way, but it’s more important for the players.”
Carr’s take on the time change is: “It’s real. I’m going to try to stick to the script this year as far as getting my sleep cycle ready.”
After forcing a collective 10 turnovers in wins over Cincinnati and Cleveland, the Ravens hope to keep the streak alive with a victory across the Atlantic Ocean.
“As much as we want to see London, we still have to come back 3-0,” defensive back Lardarius Webb said. “We’re going over there to get a win.”
Quarterback Joe Flacco expects his family to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Crown Jewels and all the sights. He will count on them to take pictures, because he’s got a different kind of trip in mind — especially because the team hotel is 45 minutes outside of London.
“I’m going to bank on getting some rest, getting a couple good meals and that’s about it,” Flacco said. “I’m definitely banking on falling asleep on that flight because if I don’t, Friday is going to be a pretty long day.”
And Sunday should be rather interesting.
“During the game the fans are different. They cheer for everything,” Carr said. “You’re going to see every single jersey from 32 teams. It’s going to be a fun affair.”