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Baltimore Ravens Enjoy Practice in Annapolis

Aug 05, 2014 11:18AM ● By Jake Russell

Fans pose for pictures with the Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders.

As the Baltimore Ravens prepare for their first preseason game of the 2014 season against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night, they stopped by Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Monday night for their second open practice of training camp.

Fans were able to take part in children's activities, face painting, meet-and-greets with the Ravens cheerleaders and photo opportunities with the team's live ravens Rise and Conquer, who are trained at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and fly around M&T Bank Stadium on game days. The Baltimore's Marching Ravens Pep Band performed for fans and children aged six to 14 years of age were able to head to the front row to secure autographs from their favorite players.

In front of thousands of devoted fans, the purple and black took part in drills for about two and a half hours as they attempted to fine tune their skills on offense, defense, and special teams.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said the practice was less physical than normal due to how weekend practices went. After Monday's practice, he was pleased with how the evening went

“It was a great night here in Annapolis," Harbaugh says. "Everybody’s having a lot of fun. It was a good night for our football team.“

Having started the tradition of holding practicing in Annapolis back in 2012, Ravens players certainly appreciate what the fan support from the state capital provides.

"It's kind of exciting when you're out here. I love it," defensive lineman Haloti Ngata says. "It's awesome down here. I just wish I could spend more time out here. Annapolis is an awesome place. Whenever I can, my family, we come down here and try and spend some time around the pier and just hang out. It's a pretty awesome place."

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco enjoyed getting to practice in front of a large group of fans.

"It’s really just cool to get out here in front of fans and see how excited they get to see us live," he said. "It gives us a chance to break up the monotony of camp a little bit. But really it’s a pretty typical practice for us. It gives us a chance to, like I said, feel the energy from some people around here. I really enjoy it.”

The Ravens finished the 2013 season with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

In the eyes of Flacco, missing the playoffs was very abnormal but the team's approach to the upcoming season remains the same.

“It was different because we weren’t in [the playoffs]," he says. "We had to watch some of those games but we have a great approach around here and we’re always looking for little edges and ways to practice better. Our approach is always going to be the same just coming to work ready stacking good days on top of good days and seeing where it takes you."

For fiery newcomer Steve Smith, Sr., a 13-year veteran wide receiver with a strong pedigree, it's important to not let complacency set in.

“I expect that we no longer expect subpar performance individually and also as a team," he says. "We need to exceed expectations that were obviously lowered last year.