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Keenan Reynolds Hopes to Show His Growth in Return to Navy


The last time Keenan Reynolds suited up in Navy Marine-Corps Stadium was one helluva day.

On Dec. 28, 2015, Reynolds broke the FBS record for career touchdowns from scrimmage in a 44-28 Military Bowl win over Pittsburgh.

The triple-option quarterback even caught the first pass of his college career on a trick play. Who knew then that it would be a harbinger?

Reynolds will suit up in his former home stadium for the first time since then – in Saturday's second free stadium Ravens practice – and he's trying to show how far he's come in his transition from a triple-option college quarterback to an NFL wide receiver.

"I really think he has made a lot of progress," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I hope he shows it. There would be no better place for him to break out a little bit."

Reynolds graduated from Navy with glowing remarks from former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and a stamp of approval from former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to defer his military service.

Reynolds was the last player to go from Navy straight to the NFL, as the rules have changed under President Donald Trump, and he is certainly the school's highest-profile athlete currently in the league.

The New England Patriots drafted long snapper Joe Cardona in 2015, one year before the Ravens selected Reynolds in the sixth round. Before Cardona, Navy hadn't had any player selected in 17 years. Before then, NFL greats such as quarterback Roger Staubach graced that field.

"It's more than just a stadium," Reynolds said. "It's pretty dope. A lot of great, great memories in that stadium. Didn't lose a lot; had a lot of success there. It's going to be good to get back on that field."

Saturday's practice will be the Ravens' Military Appreciation Day, and it's Reynolds' opportunity to show how far he's come as a receiver.

As a converted quarterback, Reynolds was pretty raw last year. He said Thursday that getting off the line of scrimmage, knowing how to run routes against coverage, getting in and out of breaks and fighting to catch the ball were all a struggle last season.

Reynolds spent nearly his entire rookie season on the team's practice squad, where he served as a scout team wide receiver against Baltimore's top-flight defense, and it's made him a much better player in this year's training camp. Reynolds is catching the ball much smoother and gets open more frequently.

"I was just telling Keenan I was very pleased with his progress," Wide Receivers Coach Bobby Engram said. "He has had a tremendous learning curve. The key is for him to figure out how to take that next step as a receiver, and that is what he is working diligently on."

Reynolds has also improved on special teams, which is his best avenue to making the team. Not only is he trying to be the team's punt and kick returner, but he also is working as the punt protector (barking out calls to the unit on coverage) and kick coverage unit.

"I have seen a lot of improvement in him from even in the spring time," Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said, referring to his kick returns. "He looks really good, in my opinion."

Reynolds is pleased to hear the kind words, but he knows he still has a lot of competition to make the 53-man roster. Undrafted rookie wide receivers Tim White, Quincy Adeboyejo and C.J. Board have flashed their potential and veterans Michael Campanaro and Chris Matthews have shown their ability.

"It's encouraging, but it's not enough for me," Reynolds said. "It's all good to make that leap, but I want to be great. I don't want to be just another guy out on the field, another guy that can say he played in the league. I want to be one that's remembered."

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