The Ravens threw a little bit of everything at Keenan Reynolds this spring.
As the decorated former Navy quarterback transitions to a receiver and return man, the Ravens put him in a variety of situations to see how quickly he could adjust. In addition to his reps at punt returner and receiver, he also worked on the kickoff and punt coverage teams.
There were hardly any drills where Reynolds wasn't involved.
"We say it all the time: 'The more you can do,'" Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "He has to learn all of that."
Reynolds has to be a quick study because he's in the middle of a tight competition for a roster spot. The sixth-round pick virtually plays the same role as third-year receiver Michael Campanaro, who missed the offseason program with a calf injury but is expected to return for the start of training camp.
The position where Reynolds seems like he could make the most immediate impact is at punt returner. He was a gifted runner at the college level – his 88 career rushing touchdowns are the most in NCAA history – and using him in the return game is a way to get him the football with space to work.
"Keenan, to me, has a lot of change of direction and really good instincts with the ball in his hand," Rosburg said. "That's what we look to maximize."
The Ravens tested Reynolds as a returner during the offseason practices.
During one practice during minicamp, he fielded punts from Sam Koch while kicker Justin Tucker ran down the field and yelled in his face as a distraction. At the conclusion of that practice, the entire defense surrounded Reynolds while he circled under a punt.
Reynolds didn't buckle under the pressure and caught every punt.
"He's starting from scratch, so it's a long journey, but what we've seen on a daily basis is improvement," Rosburg said. "I think he's making really good progress."
Rosburg has experience in helping former college quarterbacks transition to NFL returners. During his time as the special teams coordinator in Cleveland from 2001-2006, Rosburg helped former Kent State quarterback Josh Cribbs develop into one of the NFL's top return men.
In just his second year as a returner, Cribbs put up a team-record 1,494 kickoff returns yards and was named the team's most valuable player.
"There's been a precedent," Rosburg said. "And we've talked to [Reynolds] about it."
Rosburg also pointed out that Cribbs isn't the only college quarterback to have success as an NFL returner. New England's Julian Edelman also played quarterback at Kent State, but he's developed into a dynamic returner and receiver at the professional level.
"There are a number of guys that have come into a situation such as this and made the most of it, because you have to find your way on the field," Rosburg said.
Reynolds has only played receiver and returner for a few months, and admitted that he has a "long way to go" to prove himself. But he's made quick progress, and the Ravens are optimistic that his skillset will allow him to make a natural transition.
"You have to be able to make quick decisions; you have to be quick in tight spaces, make a move and make somebody miss," Reynolds said. "Obviously, we're working on technique and learning the role and the position and everything that goes in at the position. I think I can make strides at [returner] as well."