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Ravens prepared to make trek to Baltimore an annual tradition

The Ravens' first practice at a stadium in Baltimore since 1996 is set to become an annual tradition.

Minutes after an announced crowd of 17,851 at M&T; Bank Stadium watched the team participate in its first nonscrimmage practice at a stadium since Ted Marchibroda and the Ravens descended on Memorial Stadium in 1996, coach John Harbaugh revealed that owner Steve Bisciotti liked the idea of spending at least one camp practice at the stadium.

"Steve came out on the field there when we were doing one of our drills, and he basically said: 'This is a tradition now. We're doing it' because it was so good," Harbaugh said. "You felt it out there. It's great for our team to get out there on the field, but it's so good for the fans. You felt like there was a lot of fans that you knew you hadn't seen in Westminster."

Fans cheered enthusiastically when such favorites as linebacker Ray Lewis, running back Ray Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco emerged from the team's tunnel before the practice's noon start.

Linebacker Jarret Johnson said the players noticed the different vibes at M&T; Bank Stadium compared with the environment surrounding the practice fields at McDaniel College in Westminster.

"Anytime you're in the stadium, it's got a little more energy to it," he said. "It brings more fans up, and you've got the different turf. It's just a different atmosphere. It feels more like a game even though it's just practice."

Several players echoed the sentiment of wide receiver Derrick Mason, who said playing in Baltimore was a welcome diversion.

"Although it's nice being out in Westminster -- they've welcomed us each and every time we've been out there -- it's kind of good to break up the monotony and kind of get a new environment for at least a day," he said.

Mason, Carr updates

Mason said he landed on his left knee and bruised it Saturday but emphasized that the injury is not serious.

"Just banged my knee a little bit and came out," said Mason, vowing to return to practice today. "It wasn't critical that I come back in. So I just iced it down and that was about it."

Chris Carr appeared to injure his hamstring before Mason's injury, but the cornerback deferred all questions to Harbaugh, who had little information.

"I'm not sure," Harbaugh said when asked about Carr. "I don't have a report on that yet."

Gaither sees back specialist

Harbaugh did say offensive tackle Jared Gaither saw a back specialist Saturday morning about the spasms in his back and shoulders that have kept him out of practice since Wednesday.

"I have not heard the report on that yet other than to hear that it's not serious," Harbaugh said. "It's just something that he's got to fight through."

In addition to Gaither, offensive tackles Tony Moll (concussion) and Stefan Rodgers (leg), center David Hale (unspecified), cornerback K.J. Gerard (hamstring) and safety Marcus Paschal (right leg) did not practice.

Cornerback Fabian Washington suited up, but he said he did not participate because of precautionary concerns about testing his surgically repaired left knee on the new Sportexe field that was installed in May.

"I'm fine," Washington said. "Just taking it easy on the turf. ... The turf is harder than grass, so you don't want to put all that pounding on the knee right now. That's all it was."

Running back Willis McGahee (swelling in left knee) returned to practice after sitting out Friday's sessions.

Ayanbadejo has procedure

Brendon Ayanbadejo underwent a minor procedure a few days ago, but the Ravens linebacker and special teams ace still doesn't know when he'll return.

Ayanbadejo, who remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list, recently had a plasma injection in Arizona. He tore a quadriceps tendon Oct. 4 at New England.

"It's doing good," Ayanbadejo said. "I'm supposed to be off of it for a week or so. It feels better now than it has ever felt before."

Ayanbadejo added: "You do plasma injections, a common thing. They enriched it with some amino acids to help build and heal tissues. It's a good procedure. I feel good."

End zone

Ken Hamlin furthered his case for more playing time by intercepting a pass each from quarterbacks Marc Bulger and Troy Smith on Saturday. "I'm not worried about positioning myself," Hamlin said. "Today, a lot of people got a lot better, and that's the thing about practice. You usually get better each day. Our goal is to make sure we're all jelling together when the season starts." ... After going 7-for-12 in his two previous practices, Shayne Graham connected on all nine of his field goals Saturday. "I'm happy when I walk off the field with no misses," he said. "If this was a game, I wouldn't be unhappy with it." ... Harbaugh caught a pass batted down by linebacker Antwan Barnes during an exercise and pretended to run with the ball. "Yeah, I've got pretty good hands," Harbaugh said. "Caught balls for my brother all those years, I can catch. You never know. The dream never dies, right?"

Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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