I attended the Baltimore Ravens first practice session at M&T Bank Stadium on July 30 with friends and it was a blast! It was my first time attending a practice session and I was thoroughly impressed. It was a beautiful, sunny day that helped make the visit memorable.
The stadium was active with hundreds of fans waiting in line to enter M&T. While standing there waiting my turn to enter, I stood in awe looking at the mighty statues of Ray Lewis and Johnny Unitas. Both standing with pride representing Baltimore. There were many, many fans standing in line with their Raven jerseys on representing their favorite player.
Once inside the stadium, my group and I found seat about 12 rows from the field. Once settled, I looked around and the first thing that caught my eye was the huge, clear video boards. According to an article from Baltimore Business Journal by Digital Editor Jonathan Munshaw, this new 4K video is “the highest resolution for screens available on the commercial market.” These screens are huge! You can be sitting in the nose-bleed section and still see the action on the field just as clear as if you were on the field! The stadium also has a smaller scoreboard, called a ribbon, that goes all the way around the stadium. The second eye-catching thing was the field! How green and perfect looking that football field was. Turf was so pretty that it looked like carpet. I felt like this was my first time at M&T Bank stadium although it wasn’t.
On the field, I saw many key players on the field going through their training routines. The players were separated by position.
Wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace took turns making catches from three-year veteran quarterback Dustin Vaughan, one of Flacco’s back-ups. Undrafted rookie wide receivers Quincy Adeboyeijo and Tim White also made some impressive catches. White even made a passing touchdown in practice. He is one to take a closer look.
Running backs took turns making catches in their routine. Ravens brought back running back Bobby Rainey after Kenneth Dixon’s season-ending injury. Lorenzo Taliaferro looked good on the field after returning from his hamstring injury last season. He has made a switch in position and training as a fullback, according to an article on Baltimoresun.com.
The tight ends were hard at work during their drills. Max Williams and Benjamin Watson was on the field making running catches. The tight end group, which was the fullest position, now is becoming the lightest. Crockett Gillmore is gone for the season with knee problems that will require surgery. Dennis Pitta was released earlier in the year, Darren Waller has been suspended for one year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The Ravens added former Giants tight end Larry Donnell for added depth.
Ravens secondary was on the field hard at work running their drills and looking like they were itching for interceptions. Cornerback Jimmy Smith looked good as new on the field. Hopefully, he will stay healthy and stay on the field. Safety Eric Weddle and linebacker Kamalei Correa was hard at work attempting to stop all receivers.
It is not hard to see why there are so many injuries. During one of the training drills, linebacker Kamalei Correa tackled running back Taquan Mizzell very aggressively. You could hear the crunch from the stands! Both players got up without injury but many don’t.
Special teams players were on the field practicing kicks. Punters Kenny Allen and Sam Koch was on the field width-wise and they took turns kicking balls in the stands. The fans went crazy trying to catch the balls! I watched kicker Justin Tucker warm up. It would not have been practice if Tucker did not kick. After Tucker warmed up, he practiced his kicking length-wise of the field. He completed some practice kicks from the 10, 20, 30, 40, 45 and 50 yard line. Tucker completed three more kicks from the 40, 48, 52 and 61 yard line. I was hoping Tucker would kick some balls into the stands but he kept it on the field.
After the players signed autographs for the kiddies, the laser show began. It was absolutely breath-taking! There were fireworks shooting from the field and in the upper tier of the stands, laser lights all over the field. It was like the 4th of July in overdrive!
My experience was awesome from the moment I entered the stadium until the time I left. From the food, to the staff, to the new renovations and the all-and-all experience of my first Ravens practice was great!