For the past 15 years, the Baltimore Ravens held training camp at McDaniel College. Thousands of fans flocked to Westminster, MD to watch the team prepare for the season, get autographs and interact with their favorite players. The long standing tradition ended last year when the NFL lockout forced the team to stay at their facility in Owings Mills, MD.
Fans are not allowed to attend practices in Owings Mills. However, the team held a lottery for 200 training camp seats earlier this summer. Lottery winners were granted access to camp on selected days.
Attending practice at the Under Armour Performance Center seemed a little overwhelming at first. Upon arriving at the facility, I was asked to present my media pass to a security guard at the gate and once I entered the building, I was shuffled off to the “media room” to await the start of practice. I couldn’t wait to to hit the field to watch the team work. Practice started at 3:30, it was the heat of the day. But, the players didn’t seem fazed.
As soon as practice started, every inch of the field was covered with players taking part in individual drills. Later in the afternoon, the team showed off their hard work during the 11-on-11 drills. A total of 17 players sat out of practice due to injuries, most notably C Matt Birk, CB Jimmy Smith, FB Vonta Leach, and DT Arthur Jones.
QB Joe Flacco really appeared to be hitting his stride, looking sharp in the pocket and making a lot of nice throws.
WR LaQuan Williams had an excellent practice. He made a series of great catches, with one being a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco.
TE Ed Dickson also got in on the action catching a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco.
Rookie K Justin Tucker came up just a few yards short on a 60-yard field goal (he was 7-8 on the day).
DT Haloti Ngata and LT Bryant McKinne returned to practice after being on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Practice ended with RG Marshal Yanda addressing the team. “His words were, ‘Embrace the grind.’ Perfect for training camp, right?” Harbaugh said. “’Embrace the grind.’ He talked about ‘physical’ being the foundation of being a football player and what this football team is all about, and he talked about having fun. It’s a game that we should love. It’s a great game, and we all love it, so even though it’s 105 degrees, or whatever it is, make the most of it and enjoy yourself.”
Enjoyed themselves, indeed.