This is the time of year when, usually, weights are clanging, Joe Flacco is throwing to his wide receivers and beanbags are hitting the cornhole boards.
As the NFL lockout completes its second full week, Ravens coach John Harbaugh is reminded about the work stoppage every time he walks around the locker room.
No players. No laughter. No sound at all.
"It's like you want to have sad music in the background," Harbaugh said.
The coaches are trying to stick to their normal offseason routine as possible, watching tape of potential draft picks; conducting studies of trends and tendencies; and breaking down their schemes on offense and defense.
The biggest difference is having no interaction with the players. Team officials can't meet, text, email or call them. They can't keep track of Sergio Kindle's rehab firsthand, and they can't make sure Terrence Cody is eating right.
As the start of the lockout approached earlier this month, Harbaugh wasn't even allowed to give a parting message to his team.
"I communicated as much as I could without crossing over the line with what we're supposed to do," Harbaugh said. "Joe [Flacco] and Domonique [Foxworth] made plans for the players, and I was pretty impressed with what they're doing."
But Harbaugh did add, "As a coach, you want to be a part of it."
Instead of spending half the day on the field with players, the coaches have used that time to examine themselves more thoroughly.
"This is an opportunity for us to strip everything down and build everything up from the ground floor, which you really want to do every year anyway. But it's really hard to find the time to do that," Harbaugh said. "It's not like we're changing, but we're rebuilding everything we're doing, how we say it and what we do. We're doing studies. We're looking at all aspects of football that we can think of to make sure we're on the right track with our ideas."
The coaches, though, can do only so much on the chalkboard and computers. They really need to visually see how the plays can be run.
Harbaugh has talked about using office personnel, from members of the public relations staff to security guards, as practice players.
"We're actually going to do that," Harbaugh said with a grin, "because we have some certain scheme things and we need some bodies."
The preliminary hearing on the players' request for an injunction to block the lockout is April 6. It's unknown whether the players could return to team headquarters next month, during the summer or not at all this season.
Asked how much time he would need to get his team ready to play a regular-season game, Harbaugh said: "The honest answer is whatever everybody else gets. Whatever everybody else gets, I'd be comfortable because you're going to play somebody else. They're not going to have any more time than we're going to have. The thing I'd be concerned about is … you have to have time to get things coordinated. So, they can play and execute. They have to be able to run and hit and not have hamstring pulls basically for their own safety. That's what training camp has always been for. How long is that? I don't know."
Harbaugh remains optimistic that no games will be missed in 2011, but he acknowledged that he's speaking from the gut and not from inside information.
"I think the coaches' situation is kind of a good one to be in because we're on the same side as the fans," he said. "Everybody wants to have football. And yet for us, we're kind of with the fans. We're kind of sitting on the sidelines watching and we have our fingers crossed, too."