Playing defensive tackle Thursday night, Patrick Ricard recovered a fumble and started running off the field. Not so fast. Ricard also plays fullback and the Ravens were in the red zone.
So instead of taking a break, Ricard took a U-turn and joined the offensive huddle.
“It was like, ‘Dude, this is what you wanted. Get out there,’’’ Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Ricard doesn’t mind being one of the NFL’s few two-way players. He loves it. With a fumble recovery Thursday night and two sacks in the preseason opener, Ricard is showing he can be a defensive difference-maker.
Meanwhile, he is throwing bone-crushing blocks as a fullback, which is a valuable strength in a Baltimore offense that is expected to be run-heavy. Just after his fumble recovery, Ricard blocked up the edge on a 1-yard touchdown run by rookie Justice Hill.
Ricard also contributes on special teams, and the more he does, the more he looks like someone who will be part of the 53-man roster. Since making the team as an undrafted free agent from Maine in 2017, Ricard has been valued for his versatility, but he was a healthy scratch the final five games of last season. It was clear Ricard would have to carve out a niche in 2019, and he has been doing just that.
“I’m just happy to play,” Ricard said. “I’m just happy to be here and whenever my name’s called, give everything I’ve got.
“That’s my job here, to play offense and defense. I did it the last preseason game as well. It’s great for me to be able to help the offense and the defense. I’ve just got to keep working, keep improving and do whatever I do to help this team to win.”
Ricard carried the ball twice Thursday night and gained four yards. He picked up a first down both times, including once on fourth down. He has caught four passes during his NFL career, but he has never carried the ball during a regular season game. That could change this season, and Ricard loves getting a chance to touch the football.
“That’s the first time I’ve gotten the ball like that since high school,” Ricard said. “It was just a handoff to me. I’ve been doing it in practice this camp and OTAs and stuff, so I’ve been getting reps at it. Just haven’t done it in an actual game. Did it the first time and got the first down and then did it again and got a first down, so I was happy with it. It was great to get those reps.”
If Ricard keeps making plays, he’ll be hard to keep off the field. It’s not as if the Ravens can’t find a position for him. They’ve found one on both offense and defense.
“He’s in the backfield quite a bit on defense, and he’s in the backfield quite a bit on offense,” Harbaugh said. “That’s a good balance. He has played well, and he’s really establishing himself as a really valuable part of our team.”