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The Ravens' first training-camp practice at M&T Bank Stadium was also the players' first experience there since the turf had been replaced during the offseason.

The SportExe field, which features 1 billion blades of green synthetic fibers with a base of sand and granular rubber, is essentially the same as the highly rated one that had been in place for seven years. But the newer turf is much softer than its predecessor, according to several players.

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"It's soft, and I don't know whether that's good or bad," said wide receiver Derrick Mason, who bruised his left knee on the artificial surface Saturday. "Being out there for a full game will be the judge of that. It is a very soft surface. Last year's was a little bit more firmer. Some guys like a firm surface, and some guys like a soft surface. So we'll kind of feel it out in the preseason, and whatever adjustments need to be made, I'm pretty sure the grounds crew will make those adjustments when we open up in Week 3."

There was some speculation that last year's turf contributed to torn anterior cruciate ligaments for cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb and Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith. But the surface has been rated among the best in NFL Players Association surveys, ranking in the top seven in the past three player polls (No. 6 in 2004 and No. 7 in 2006 and 2008).

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"Well, it felt really good to me, but I'm not the one playing on it," coach John Harbaugh said. "It's definitely softer than the last one. They were telling me it was really hot, which is expected on a hot day. So they were saying their feet were kind of burning a little bit. But it seemed like the footing was good, and obviously, it didn't grab too much, which is important."

A few players elected to reserve judgment until the turf takes its expected pounding during the 10 preseason and regular-season home games.

"It feels soft right now, but it'll get beat down," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "It takes a while for everything to settle."

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