It's not often that a practice squad signing comes to town and people already know about his sock collection.
But that's the case with new Ravens cornerback Charles James, who arrived in Baltimore as a popular player thanks to his prominence in this season of HBO's "Hard Knocks." James was a fan favorite on this year's show, which had an all-access pass to training camp with the Houston Texans.
Hard Knocks featured James' affinity for wild socks, his efforts to play in all three phases of the game, and some interesting pre-game conversations.
Here's an overview of some of the best "Hard Knocks" moments featuring the Ravens' new cornerback.
James Plays Madden With Odell Beckham Jr.
The cornerback is good friends with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and they still in touch across the country through some intense video game competition. Hard Knocks captured the two of them playing each other in a game of Madden, including all of the trash talk back and forth between headsets.
Texans Ask James To Play Running Back
Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien saw enough potential in James that they wanted to give him a chance to play both sides of the football. O'Brien talked with Texans General Manger Rick Smith about giving James some snaps at running back to see what he could do, and the next day they gave it a shot. James surprised some people with how quickly he picked up the position. (Note: The video clip below does include some adult language).
James' work at running back wasn't just limited to the practice field, and late in a preseason game against the Saints he lobbied the coaches to give him a shot on offense. They acquiesced to his requests, and James quickly ripped off a 73-yard touchdown run. The bad news was that a holding call brought back the touchdown, but James still held onto the football and flashed his big smile on the bench for the cameras.
Meeting Peyton Manning, Erin Andrews
A nice human moment of the preseason came when the Texans faced off with the Broncos, and James made sure to shake hands with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning before the game. Later in the preseason, FOX sideline reporter Erin Andrews introduced herself to James pre-game and the two of them shared their own words of admiration.
Houston Cuts James Because Of His Size
The Texans spoke highly of James throughout the preseason, but their depth at cornerback led to them releasing him in their final round of cuts. The Houston front office mulled the decision over at length, saying it was a "dead heat" between James and fellow defensive back Jumal Rolle. The Texans ultimately chose Rolle because James, 5-foot-9, didn't have enough length against bigger receivers in the division. After the finale aired Tuesday night, James tweeted about his size.
Decision To Come To Baltimore
Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien said he'd like to bring James back on their practice squad, but that's when the Ravens called and offered him a spot on their practice squad. James told the cameras that the change of scenery would be good, and Texans GM Rick Smith gave him some encouragement on one final phone call. "Go do you, and I wish you well," Smith said. "And we'll be watching." James then packed up for Baltimore, bringing his funny socks along for the ride.