Anyone planning on making it over to M&T Bank Stadium this afternoon to watch the Ravens' open practice?
I'm interested to see how many people show up; it looks like it will be a perfect day to go watch some football, and this is a great opportunity for those who don't normally get to see the team train up in Westminster.
I'll set my estimated attendance at 18,632.
Why the extra 632? Why not?
(If the actual attendance is 18,632, someone owes me a beer.)
Training camp practices, like the ones you can see today, are special for a number of reasons.
You get to hear head coach John Harbaugh rip into his players from time to time. You can watch the inner workings of an NFL practice and see how things are run. And maybe best of all, you get a chance to interact with the players like nowhere else.
Two moments from yesterday illustrate my last point.
Mixed in amongst the purple and black-clad fans at camp on Friday were a father and daughter, the latter of whom was dressed in a Anquan Boldin Cardinals jersey.
Throughout practice, she held up a sign which you can see on the right. It read, "I flew 2,000 miles to see the Quanimator. Love ya Q".
(Side note: I don't think I'm a big fan of the 'Quanimator' moniker. Don't see that one sticking.)
Regardless, I'm not sure if Boldin spotted the sign, or if it was a Ravens staffer that pointed it out to him, but after practice, the wide receiver brought the father and daughter onto the field and talked with them for upwards of 10 or 15 minutes.
Boldin took pictures with the fans, signed a jersey for them, and thanked them for their support.
Just a few minutes prior to that, during full team drills, quarterback Troy Smith rolled out of the pocket, and with no receivers open, he threw the ball away. The only problem was that he chucked it directly towards the fan area, where kids were starting to line up for autographs from the players.
The ball looked like it would surely hit some poor, unsuspecting kid square in the face, but out of nowhere, one boy stuck out his Ravens replica helmet and deflected the ball away from the rest of the young kids around him.
A number of players nearby saw the boy's injury-saving play, and many started clapping. Jarret Johnson and Paul Kruger even walked over to the boy and gave him fist pounds and a pat on the head.
Those are the moments that make training camp special.
Today's practice might not allow the normal player/fan interaction because it will obviously be on a larger scale than a normal Westminster session. But you can bet that the team will make an effort to thank the fans that trek out to M&T to watch them work.