Undrafted rookie free agent Patrick Ricard came to the Ravens as a defensive tackle.
He left training camp as a fullback.
After Sunday’s game, the player nicknamed “Project Pat” went home a playmaker.
Ricard scored a 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Ravens’ big 44-20 win Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
The Lions didn't expect the 304-pound fullback, who had caught one pass for 1 yard all season, to be the target of a goal-line play and Ricard slipped into the flat uncovered for an easy catch and score. At least, it would be easy if, you know, Ricard was a pass-catcher.
“I knew he was going to throw it to me,” Ricard said. “Perfect pass. I had to catch it. So happy I did.”
It’s Ricard’s first touchdown since 2011 when he was a fullback at David Prouty High School in Spencer, Mass.
So excited and not thinking clearly, he handed the ball to a referee. Recognizing that’s a keepsake he may want for his personal collection, a public relations member retrieved it.
After the game, Ricard was asked where the touchdown ranks in his sports achievements.
“It’s Top 5,” he said. “Making this team is probably No. 1. In high school, I went undefeated and won a state championship with my brother and a bunch of good guys I grew up with. Getting a scholarship to college was great and winning a championship there. But this is definitely up there.”
Ricard played college at Maine, where he never saw crowds anything like the 70,000 at M&T Bank Stadium. He was named an All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) first-teamer after notching 50 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as a senior.
The Ravens really liked what they saw from Ricard as a defensive lineman early this summer. He was big, nimble for his size and, above all else, physical.
With a ton of depth on the defensive line and a need for another mauling blocker in Greg Roman’s run scheme, the Ravens converted Ricard to fullback, where he has replaced departed Pro Bowler Kyle Juszczyk, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers this offseason.
“When I first signed here, I just wanted to make the team. If they wanted me for my effort, they were going to get that,” Ricard said.
“I never thought I’d be the fullback for the Ravens. If you told me that my sophomore year of high school, I wouldn’t have believed that. I just scored a touchdown today, and it’s unbelievable.”
Ricard said the Ravens ran the touchdown play in practice a lot. They also ran it just five minutes earlier when tight end Benjamin Watson found himself wide open for a 1-yard touchdown.
The second time, it was Ricard who found himself with no defenders around him. When the Ravens called the play, Watson was on the sideline and knew either Nick Boyle or Ricard was going to get the pass his way.
“I’m super excited for him,” Watson said. “He knew nothing about offense. We’ve taught him so much, and he’s absorbing it.”
Sunday's touchdown may not be his last time on the other end of a pass either.
"There was really no doubt in our minds that he would catch it if we threw it to him," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That play has been in the whole season. We have other plays for him that are in, too, so stay tuned. He has good hands. He is really a pretty darn good athlete. He is a weapon; a newfound weapon.”
Asked whether he views himself as more of an offensive or defensive player now, Ricard smiled. After scoring a touchdown, he has to go with offense, though he did point out that he’s still an extremely rare two-way NFL player. Ricard lined up on defense for the final play of the game.
“All the defensive linemen are happy for me, but probably a little jealous because they wish they were doing what I’m doing right now,” he said.
Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Lions in week 13!