How big a hit was today's practice at M&T Bank Stadium?
Before the session had even ended, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti decided he wanted to make the practice an annual event.
"Steve came out on the field there when we were doing one of our drills, and he basically said, 'This is a tradition now. We're doing it.'" head coach John Harbaugh said.
17,851 people turned out this afternoon, a total which marks the largest crowd to ever watch a Ravens training camp practice. The fans filled about half of the lower bowl of the stadium, and many of those that stayed for the entire session were rewarded with autographs.
A good number of players and coaches hung around for 15-20 minutes after practice to sign and chat with fans that had stuck around until the end.
"It was so good, you felt it out there," Harbaugh said. "It's great for our team to get out there on the field...but it's so good for the fans. You get a chance to come down here, and you felt like there were a lot of fans that you knew you hadn't seen in Westminster, and hadn't been out there, had a chance to come out here.
"[There were] so many kids. The kids were everywhere. I think that's what we want to be about. That's what we want to be about as an organization: We want to be a family, we want to be about kids, we want people to feel like they're a part of the Ravens."
It wasn't just the coaches that enjoyed the experience. Center Matt Birk had fun with the new location as well.
"I think it was great for us to get a little change of scenery, get in the stadium, and I think it was great a great gesture, too," Birk said. "To open it up to the public for free and give anybody who wants a chance to come to the stadium and check it out [was good].
"And it was a lot of fun. As far as training camp practices go, it was fun."
Beyond the fan aspect, Harbaugh said having practice at the stadium had actual football benefits as well. The team installed new field turf this offseason, so this was the players' first chance to run around and test out the new surface.
Every player I talked to said the turf felt "hot", but they seemed OK with the speed and texture of the surface.
"The other thing was getting used to the stadium, just throwing passes on this turf, with our crowd, with the background you have here at the stadium," Harbaugh said. "I'm thinking maybe we should do more of this because it was such a good day that way. I think we got a lot out of it."