• Ray Rice, Baltimore Raven runningback, shakes hands with Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Ray Rice, Baltimore Raven runningback, shakes hands with Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation...

  • The Baltimore Ravens recognized service members during the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during its open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    The Baltimore Ravens recognized service members during the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during its open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012.

  • Baltimore Ravens announcer Gerry Sandusky welcomes service members, including Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins (far left), Maryland National Guard adjutant general, and Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington (far right), commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, to the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during its open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The team reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Baltimore Ravens announcer Gerry Sandusky welcomes service members, including Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins (far left), Maryland National Guard adjutant general, and Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington (far right), commanding general of Joint Force...

  • Baltimore Ravens announcer Gerry Sandusky welcomes service members, including Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins (far left), Maryland National Guard adjutant general, and Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington (far right), commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, to the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during its open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The team reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Baltimore Ravens announcer Gerry Sandusky welcomes service members, including Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins (far left), Maryland National Guard adjutant general, and Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington (far right), commanding general of Joint Force...

  • Baltimore Ravens announcer Gerry Sandusky welcomes service members, including Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins (far left), Maryland National Guard adjutant general, and Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington (far right), commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, to the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during its open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The team reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Baltimore Ravens announcer Gerry Sandusky welcomes service members, including Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins (far left), Maryland National Guard adjutant general, and Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington (far right), commanding general of Joint Force...

  • Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh thanks service members at the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during an interview with Ravens announcer Gerry Sandusky before open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh thanks service members at the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during an interview with Ravens announcer Gerry Sandusky before open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4...

  • Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh welcomes Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins, Maryland National Guard adjutant general, to the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day before open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh welcomes Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins, Maryland National Guard adjutant general, to the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day before open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012...

  • Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh welcomes Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, to the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during the team's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh welcomes Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, to the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day during the...

  • Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh poses for a photograph with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Susan Burkholder, Maryland National Guard, at the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day before open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh poses for a photograph with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Susan Burkholder, Maryland National Guard, at the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day before open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md...

  • Ray Rice, Baltimore Raven runningback, shakes hands with Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Fort George G. Meade garrison commander, during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Ray Rice, Baltimore Raven runningback, shakes hands with Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Fort George G. Meade garrison commander, during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The...

  • Ray Rice, Baltimore Raven runningback, poses for a photograph with Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Fort George G. Meade garrison commander, during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Ray Rice, Baltimore Raven runningback, poses for a photograph with Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Fort George G. Meade garrison commander, during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4...

  • Ed Reed, Baltimore Raven safety, signs an autograph for Petty Officer 2nd Class William Neill Church (orange shirt) during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Ed Reed, Baltimore Raven safety, signs an autograph for Petty Officer 2nd Class William Neill Church (orange shirt) during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens...

  • Ed Reed, Baltimore Raven safety, signs autographs during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Ed Reed, Baltimore Raven safety, signs autographs during the team's open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and...

  • Petty Officer 2nd Class William Neill Church takes a photograph for Marine 1st Sgt. Daniel Radomsky, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, and Radomsky's wife, Valerie, and 11-year-old daughter, Ali, during Baltimore Ravens open practice and Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The team reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Petty Officer 2nd Class William Neill Church takes a photograph for Marine 1st Sgt. Daniel Radomsky, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, and Radomsky's wife, Valerie, and 11-year-old daughter, Ali, during Baltimore Ravens open practice and Military...

  • Service members and their families watch the Baltimore Ravens during the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day and open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    Service members and their families watch the Baltimore Ravens during the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day and open practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service...

  • The Baltimore Ravens practice during the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

    Baltimore Ravens host Military Appreciation Day

    The Baltimore Ravens practice during the team's fifth annual Military Appreciation Day at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., held Aug. 4, 2012. The Ravens reserved approximately 3,500 seats for service members, veterans and military families.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Aug. 6, 2012) -- As the Baltimore Ravens prepare for the National Football League season, the team opened its training camp to 20,324 fans Saturday evening.

Among the energetic crowd that nearly filled the entire lower level of M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, more than 3,000 seats were reserved for service members, retirees and family members as part of the Ravens' fifth annual Military Appreciation Day.

The event was instituted by Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh during his first season with the team in 2008.

"It's great that Coach Harbaugh reached out to the military and is doing this [Military Appreciation Day for us," said Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commander of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region/Military District of Washington. "We love the Ravens and the fact that he's paying tribute to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and deployed."

In addition to being seated near the endzone, service members received T-shirts, patriotic gifts, and opportunities for autographs and photos with players and cheerleaders.

Prior to the practice, Harbaugh met with service members to sign autographs and shake hands.

"Just want to thank all the folks from the U.S. military who were here ... just all of our good friends in the military for being here," Harbaugh said after the practice. "Thank you for what you do. Freedom is not free, and we can't do what we do without you. Thank you very much."

During practice, several service members including Linnington and Fort George G. Meade Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein walked around the field for a closer look at the practice and to meet several of the players including running back Ray Rice and safety Ed Reed.

Staff Sgt. Reynold Thomas of the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va., was among the fans watching the practice from the endzone seats. Saturday was the closest Thomas had ever been to an NFL field.

"I would like to go on there," he said.

Several service members said they enjoyed watching how the team trains for the season.

"It's great seeing how they practice," Thomas said. "It looks kind of chaotic out there."

Staff Sgt. Clayton Hodge of the Fort Meade Medical Activity didn't know people came to watch preseason practices.

While he doesn't follow the Ravens, Hodge said that as a fan of football he appreciated the team reserving seats for service members to see the action up close.

"It's nice," he said. "It's good."

Thomas agreed.

"It's well worth it," he said of the event. "I don't know how they do it, but I appreciate it for sure."

Page last updated Mon August 6th, 2012 at 00:00