Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio — the site of Thursday’s preseason opener against the Chicago Bears — is an unfamiliar venue for the Ravens’ rookie class.

Except for defensive tackle Zach Sieler.


“That was actually a field where we played in college,” Sieler said, referring to the two times his Ferris State football team played against Walsh University at what was formerly called Fawcett Stadium in 2013 and 2014. “We played a team there my first two years at Ferris. So it’s kind of cool to go there now. It’s kind of funny how that has turned around.”

Even though it is a preseason game, it will mark the first NFL game for all of the rookies, some of whom are still getting adjusted to the speed of the game. But any nerves pale in comparison with the slowly building excitement.

“What I’m anticipating is fast, just running around and plays being made,” said wide receiver Jaleel Scott, the organization’s last of three fourth-round choices in April’s NFL draft. “It’s a dream come true. So I’m just looking to make a couple plays for my team.”

Coach John Harbaugh will not reveal how long he plans to keep the starters and veterans in the game or if some of them will not play at all. But the rookies figure to play meaningful minutes under the watchful eyes of the coaches, and Harbaugh wants them to avoid getting bogged down with distractions and details.

“It’s football,” he said after Tuesday morning’s practice. “They’re excited to go play, but just remember that it’s a football game. Keep it simple. Pay attention to what’s important. Knowing your assignment and playing hard and if you’re on defense, run to the football. If you’re on offense, make the catch. Keep it simple and play football.”

Running back Mark Thompson is one of 19 undrafted rookies trying to cement a spot on the active roster. He said he anticipates that the coaching staff will be critical regardless of the player’s draft status.

“They’re going to hold us to an extremely high standard,” he said. “Being a rookie means nothing, but you get to make a first impression. So you can either make a good first impression or a bad first impression. Regardless of what happens here, the other 31 teams will be watching. As much as I would love to be a Raven, at the end of the day, I want a job.”

Sieler agreed with Thompson, adding, “You’ve got to put yourself out there and play your hardest on every snap. It’s an amazing experience, and you have a chance to go out there and prove what you can do.”

Extra points: Strong safety Tony Jefferson and rookie guard Randin Crecelius returned Tuesday after sitting out the past two practices, but Jefferson participated lightly before walking back inside the locker room after positional drills. Rookie tight end Mark Andrews (muscle tissue), outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (undisclosed), running back Kenneth Dixon (hamstring), safety Kai Nacua (undisclosed) and rookie offensive tackle Greg Senat (undisclosed) were absent. Right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo (upper leg muscle), linebacker Bam Bradley (ACL) and cornerback Jaylen Hill (right ACL, MCL) are still on the physically unable to perform list. … Harbaugh said he did not anticipate that Hall of Fame inductee Ray Lewis would be available to address the team before Thursday’s game. “But I still have my fingers crossed that maybe our paths will cross, and we’ll get him to say a few words,” Harbaugh said. “He’s not usually shy about saying a word or two. So we might be able to get that done still.”

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