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Thursday night was an 'exciting moment' for Bobby Rainey

Bobby Rainey was so excited after scooting into the end zone on a halfback screen Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons that the undrafted rookie free agent running back had to be reminded to retrieve the football to give to his mother.

"That was an exciting moment," Rainey said Saturday night after practice at the Ravens' training complex. "I've got the ball right now. She'll get it, she should be coming to the next game."

It was a sterling NFL debut for the diminutive runner at the Georgia Dome, piling up 140 all-purpose yards.

The former Western Kentucky standout ran with some wiggle, gaining 36 yards on 12 carries. And he had a 26-yard kickoff return and returned six punts for 50 yards.

Rainey's top play was 18-yard touchdown catch where the 5-foot-8, 212-pounder patiently allowed his blockers, including rookie center Gino Gradkowski, to run interference for him.

"A lot of them overpursued, and I took advantage of that and started cutting back," Rainey said. "I wouldn't be denied. The blockers did a good job of getting on their guys."

A native of Griffin, Ga., Rainey had a large cheering section that included his mother, Janice Davis, and more than 30 family members and friends.

"Thursday night was exciting," Rainey said. "I had a lot of butterflies being that it was my first game in the NFL. It was a great atmosphere, though."

Rainey is proving so far that his collegiate success, which included 4,542 rushing yards, 35 touchdowns and 6,906 all-purpose yards to rank 11th in NCAA history, can translate into the NFL.

"Numbers don't lie," said Rainey, who rushed for 1,695 yards as a senior last season to rank second in the nation. "We played Division I teams and I put up numbers on them. I had a good career there.

"I guess the conference I was in, I got overlooked. It's just a blessing for the Baltimore Ravens to give me an opportunity even though all the other teams passed on me."

Rainey was recruited by Georgia Tech out of high school, but indicated that they backed off on him as he awaited a qualifying SAT score.

"They fell off on me when they got my SAT score, never heard back, they stopped calling," Rainey said. "Western knew it, they had offered and kept coming down and calling every day. So, it worked out for me."

None of the other reserve running backs have distinguished themselves so far during training camp.

And Rainey is determined to take advantage of a prime opportunity.

"Every practice is like a game for me," Rainey said. "I don't have that luxury of coming out here and just relaxing or whatever. I have to be on point every practice just to get an opportunity in a game. I think I have a good opportunity here; that's what coach Harbaugh said.

"It's up to me what I do with it. It's how I deal with it. I think I'm taking advantage of it. I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do. I think I'm doing pretty good. I'm still here, so I think I'm doing pretty good."

As Rainey makes his bid for a spot on the active roster or the practice squad, he's had the benefit of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice's tutelage.

"He's like my mentor," said Rainey, who claims to be slightly taller than Rice. "He takes care of me on the field and off the field. It doesn't matter what the situation is or whatever I need. He basically came to me. Ray is more of an open guy.

"He's a fun guy to be around. He wants you to do good, he wants you to succeed. He brought me under his wing and taught me the ropes and basically showing me the things that he did that made him successful."

awilson@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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