With the Ravens just four days away from kicking off their 2020 NFL Season against the Browns, many players around the league are still curious about how the unknowns will unfold.
As veteran running back Mark Ingram prepares for his ninth year in the league, he knows this year will be unlike any other – especially without the presence of fans.
“The unknows, there are no preseason games, so nobody’s had any live tackle action besides practice,” Ingram said. With no fans, everybody is going to wonder how the gameday atmosphere is going to be.”
Each team around the league has handled fan attendance in different ways with some implementing limited capacity models and other banning fans altogether. The Ravens announced on Aug. 24 that they will not host fans to begin the 2020 season after the plan to host 7,500 fans was rejected by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young. The team hopes to eventually permit fans to enter M&T Bank Stadium later this season.
Regardless of what the Ravens decide about fans later this year, they will at least have to begin their schedule with no crowd, and Ingram voiced his opinion on playing in such a unique atmosphere.
“I feel you’ve got to bring your own energy for sure,” he said. “I think without there being fans, it will be something like a high school scrimmage. You would get off the bus and meet a team on their field or they would meet you on your field, and there weren’t many fans, but pads were clacking, whistles were blowing and making plays.”
Ingram wasn’t the only Raven to respond to the lack of fans. Last week, Lamar Jackson expressed the desire to have fans in the stands at some point this season, especially with the NFL reporting such low COVID-19 numbers during the month of August. The presence of fans can be a gamechanger in terms of atmosphere, but Ingram is optimistic that his team can create its own energy for the time being.
“Offense is going to have to be rooting the defense,” he said. “Defense is going to have to be rooting the offense. We’re going to have to make sure we’re keeping our energy, keeping everybody up, keeping everybody energized and keeping that positive attitude. I think that’s going to be huge.”
Ultimately, Ingram believes that while fans certainly control the atmosphere the Ravens play in, if the team can execute their game plan properly, they can win regardless of who’s watching.
“We just know that we need to execute,” he said. “We need to know our game plan through and through. We need to know the ins and outs of it. We need to go out there and make sure that we’re mentally, physically and emotionally prepared to go out there and play 60 minutes and fight 60 minutes.”