10 Things for Training Camp: Off the Field

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*We are less than one week from the start of training camp, and BaltimoreRavens.com thinks there is going to be a massive turnout of fans to McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., this year. *

As such, we've compiled a list of 10 things those fans should know about camp before, during and after practice.

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    • For a good view of the action…

There are two upper fields where the Ravens will hold the majority of their practices. If you want a prime seat to catch the most action, there is a section of bleachers between the 30- and 40-yard lines that will offer the best view of the entire session, no matter what end of the field it is on.

One suggestion would be to sit high in the stands because, while most of the media members that watch from the sideline are courteous, it is impossible to crouch or kneel for an entire practice. When they stand, your sightline could be slightly obstructed.

Note: Practice times are subject to change during Training Camp. For updated information on practice times, call 410-261-RAVE.*
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  1. On the lower field…

Called Bair Stadium, the lower field has ample seating in the one side of bleachers, but I recommend unfolding a blanket and sitting under the trees surrounding the field to enjoy the shade. Bair Stadium is sporadically used, mainly if the upper fields need a rest for an afternoon practice

  1. But for a good chance at getting an autograph…

It isn't easy to enjoy a great view for all of practice and then get your favorite player's autograph. Doable, but not easy. In order to make sure you come away with prime ink, a good position is along the standing rail in front of the steps leading from the upper field to the locker room.

Also, if practice is in Bair Stadium, any spot lining the mulch-covered walkway to the upper field will do. All players have to pass that gauntlet anyway.

  1. Ravens Rookies get special perks.

And perhaps one of the biggest perks is the special Ravens Rookie autograph section during training camp. This requires an Ultimate Membership, which is only $25 and can be purchased on BaltimoreRavens.com/Rookies. In addition, there will be a Ravens Rookies Day at training camp on Aug. 6. At Rookies Day, all Ravens Rookies can participate in a Punt, Pass, and Kick competition and on-field football drills on the same field where the Ravens train.

  1. There are other special days, as well.

The Ravens are holding a few more exclusive experiences at McDaniel College. Aug. 4 is a day for the members of the Purple Just for Women Club, who will receive a free gift just by stopping by the information desk. Club PSL owners can receive special seating on Aug. 8 by presenting the postcard they received in the mail. Former Baltimore Colts and Ravens will attend the morning practice on Aug. 11, and some will be available for autographs. In addition, the Ravens will welcome members of the military on Aug. 19 in a reserved section.

  1. Don't forget the free giveaways.

If you forgot something to get signed and are not comfortable getting pen on your arm, stop by the Baltimore Sun *tent for a free autograph card. And Verizon Wireless is offering free mini-footballs. There are also many other promotional offers, such as a Ravens poster given after signing up for a subscription to the *Sun, or a free window cling for subscribing to Ravens Call, the Ravens' official e-newsletter.

  1. Games for the kids.

Even when the team isn't practicing, the fun doesn't have to stop for the entire family. The Ravenstown Fan Zone offers entertainment in such activities like the Papa Johns Ravens Rookies QB Armchair Challenge, a Gatorade Jr. Training Camp featuring football skills drills, and a Moon Bounce. There are also concessions available.

  1. It gets pretty hot.

In the dead of August, the weather in Westminster can get extremely hot and humid. It is imperative to bring ample sunscreen and to continue to hydrate throughout the day. Sunglasses are also recommended.

  1. Don't be afraid to cheer.

Training camp is one of the best times to get up close and personal with the players and coaches, so have fun with it. The Ravens obviously want it that way because they have one of the most fan-accessible camps in the NFL. Some teams don't open any practices to the public, while many others limit the open sessions to a handful. Training camp should be a festive atmosphere, because every team has a chance. Let the team know what you think.

  1. Need to waste some time?

Finally, if you're spending a few days in Westminster, there will be some time to kill in between practices. One fun activity is bowling, and the closest lanes are at Thunderhead Bowl and Grill on 4337 Old Taneytown Road in Taneytown, Md. You could catch a movie at the Cranberry Mall Cinema 6 or the Regal Westminster 9, both in Westminster. There are many restaurants a short walk away in the downtown area. Or, just throw the football on the grounds of McDaniel College.

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