Can Ravens Perform At Mile High?

Doug Pensinger

One of the big concerns for Baltimore Ravens fans heading into their teams match up with the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs is the difference in altitude the team will be playing in Denver. Could this hugely effect the Ravens players and game plan?

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark has to sit out every game his team plays at Mile High Stadium in Denver Colorado due to a rare medical condition that keeps him from being able to perform at such altitudes. Clark was unaware of the issues he would face in Denver until he tried to play there in 2007 and almost died. He carries a rare sickle-cell trait which caused him to miss the rest of his 2007 season after the game at Mile High.

Sickle-cell trait is a genetic abnormality which can affect red blood cells. Clark was playing in Denver in October 2007 when he developed significant pain in his left side. He became gravely ill and ultimately lost his spleen and gall bladder, along with the remainder of that football season, as a result. - Stephania Bell | ESPN.com

So, if that type of altitude can have that much of an effect on the human body, are the Baltimore Ravens ready to take their collective talents to Denver and play in such a different atmosphere? There is no question the air is thinner at that height and that it will be much colder and crisper than the weather here in Baltimore or most places the Ravens have played.

Players will get winded faster and it will be harder to catch their breath and there is really no way to prepare for the conditions before hand. The Ravens have not played in Denver since 2006 when the Broncos went on to win 13-3 so the majority of the young players really have no Idea what they are in for this weekend. I'm sure the coaches are doing all they can to simulate the altitude and weather conditions but when it comes down to it the team will have to just go with it and adjust on the fly as they play and hope that no one on the team unknowingly carries the sickle-cell trait that almost ended Ryan Clark's career/life.

Although the whole team will be effected by the change in weather/altitude the player who has the most to adjust to is quarterback Joe Flacco. One of Flacco's most redeeming qualities as a quarterback is his strong arm and ability to throw the deep ball. Joe will have to adjust to the thin air pregame and learn quickly how to change whatever needs to be changed for this game.

The Ravens secondary and wide receivers will also have to adjust to the flight of the ball as it will carry differently than they are used to but hopefully the team will get there early enough to have, at least, some time to work with the new playing conditions. the defense may have to step up early for the offense to have time to adjust which is nothing new for them.

The weather and altitude is a decided advantage for Denver but hopefully the boys in purple and black will be able to adjust quickly and adapt to the competition. after all, isn't that what football is all about.

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