As much as Monday night’s open practice at M&T Bank Stadium was a test for the young players to see how they responded to a stadium atmosphere, it was also a trial run for the new natural grass that was installed this offseason.
The Ravens ditched the synthetic turf they had used for 13 years, and the initial reviews from players were overwhelmingly positive about the new surface.
“It’s top of the line,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “It’s premium right now. I could go out and putt on this thing right now.”
The field held up aesthetically and structurally. It looked pristine when the players first walked out for warmups, and nobody had issues slipping because of soft turf.
“That grass was phenomenal,” Juszczyk said. “I’m very pro grass. My knees feel better after practice, and there was good traction all night.”
“I love the field,” running back Terrance West added. “It makes the cuts easier and I like it.”
The grass is less than three months old, as the Ravens started rolling out sod May 10. The grounds crew then had to re-sod portions of the field after the Beyonce concert on June 10 because that show concentrated thousands of pounds of equipment and people in the area around the stage.
Even though some of the sod has been in place for less than two months, it withstood a physical training camp practice.
“The field held up really well,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “It looked good. It’s exciting.”
Some teams around the NFL have dealt with problems when installing new turf. The San Francisco 49ers went through several iterations of their grass field after building Levi’s Stadium in 2014, and they had issues with it all the way up to Super Bowl 50.
The early returns on Baltimore’s new surface are a good start, and the hope is that the field still looks good in December after the wear and tear of an NFL season.
“It’s August and it’s sunny and all that, but it was really nice,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “It was sweet. If we can keep it like that for the whole season, it’s going to be a nice track.”