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Without fans in attendance at the Ravens’ 2011 training camp, proceedings in Owings Mills, Md., have been decidedly different than in typical years.
The Ravens have never before held training camp outside of McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., but the time constraints of the NFL lockout forced the club to move things back to its headquarters.
Needless to say, practices have been much quieter without the thousands of cheering spectators who regularly show up.
“It’s different because you don’t have the fans,” said Head Coach John Harbaugh. “I think that is the downside. It’s more like a regular season practice. I think some of you guys wrote that and I agree with that.
Last year, a record 112,051 fans attended Ravens training camp, besting the previous mark of 111,492 that was set in 2001 following the team’s Super Bowl championship season.
Of course, without the screams from the stands and post-practice autograph sessions, the Ravens have been able to accomplish a lot from a football standpoint.
“From a focus standpoint, it’s great, but from the interaction with the fans, which I think our guys really appreciate, it’s not great,” Harbaugh noted. “We would probably rather be in a real camp that way.”
At the Ravens’ training facility, practices have been lengthened to a full three hours, there are no more two-a-day sessions and 90 bodies are crammed into the locker room.
But not experiencing the summer tradition of being welcomed back to football by a horde of supporters feels odd to many players.
“It really just kind of feels like we just showed up and started the regular season,” said linebacker Jarret Johnson. “There [are] no fans, there aren’t all the hamburger stands and all that. Then again, you’re not at McDaniel College and all that. So, it’s nice to be here, but it’s not the same atmosphere.
“It is good work and we’re up here all day and everything, but it is kind of tough without fans.”
The Ravens will hold a free open practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Aug. 6 at 10 a.m. Doors open at 9 a.m., and parking lots open at 8 a.m. View more details here.