Keenan Reynolds was on the field practicing with the Ravens rookies this past weekend, but it's clear he's no longer a rookie.
The Ravens' 2016 sixth-round pick entered rookie minicamp last year behind the eight ball as he was trying to convert from a college quarterback to an NFL wide receiver. It was a huge jump.
But after a year practicing his craft, and an aggressive summer working out, Reynolds is a different product now, and he has a shot at making the Ravens' 53-man roster.
"Keenan, he has looked good. Obviously, he has a year under his belt," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Saturday.
"For Keenan, it is a new position, and he has obviously worked hard the last three months on his own to train himself how to play receiver. I know he has made some trips and traveled and worked at it, and he is doing a good job."
Asked if he now feels like a wide receiver, Reynolds smiled and said yes. That wasn't such an easy answer last year, when he felt more like a quarterback playing wide receiver.
Reynolds spent almost all of last season on the Ravens' practice squad, where he went against Baltimore's first-team cornerbacks and defense throughout the year. Any team in the NFL could have claimed him to their 53-man roster.
Reynolds was pulled up to the Ravens' active roster for the final regular-season game of the year, but he didn't play in that game. The move helped keep Reynolds in Baltimore through this offseason. Reynolds signed his exclusive rights free agent tender just before the draft.
It was a challenging year for Reynolds, who went from breaking records at Navy to not seeing any game action as an NFL rookie. But his essential redshirt year was also critically helpful.
"It was big. Learning the playbook, knowing where to line up, that was three-quarters of the battle last year," Reynolds said. "Having experience going against the starters all year on the practice squad, learning from [Steve Smith Sr.], Mike [Wallace], all those guys, just trying to improve my game."
Reynolds said he was just knocking the rust off during rookie minicamp. Now it will be about proving himself day after day throughout Organized Team Activities, minicamp, training camp and the preseason. He said the biggest hurdle moving forward is consistency.
"Coach Harbaugh talks about it all the time, stacking days, stacking plays, making plays day in and day out, practice in, practice out," Reynolds said. "It's continuing to build and improve each day."
With Smith's retirement and the departure of Kamar Aiken in free agency, the Ravens have openings at wide receiver that Reynolds could fill. He'd likely be in a competition with Michael Campanaro as a slot receiver with returner skills.
"The opportunity is there; I just have to do my part and take care of business," Reynolds said. "The one thing I learned last year is you can't just rely on the summer and OTAs and minicamp. You've got to continue to stack to training camp, preseason games to have a shot to be on the 53."
Reynolds is also thankful just to be in the NFL right now. The U.S. Department of Defense recently rescinded its policy, which was enacted just last year, to allow military service members to play professional sports immediately upon graduation.
A couple of service members, Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette and Navy wide receiver Jamir Tillman, were both hoping to play in the NFL, but each went undrafted after the policy reversal.
"I reached out to those guys, just trying to be supportive," Reynolds said. "I know they were looking forward to having the opportunity to play. The important thing is that it reiterates what we already knew and what we already believe that service is the most important duty."
Reynolds still serves in the Navy Reserve and fulfills his obligation on the first weekend of every month.