Running back Bobby Rainey has played three seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one each for the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants after never getting onto the field as a Ravens rookie. But returning to the organization that signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Western Kentucky in 2012 conjures a different feeling for the running back.
“I just felt like I was back at home,” he said after Thursday’s opening practice of training camp at the team’s headquarters in Owings Mills. “Everyone was very welcoming, especially the staff. Everybody’s here that I came with, staff-wise. I have only about a handful of the players that I came in with. So that was a little different.”
Rainey, 5 feet 8, 205 pounds, was signed Wednesday after the Ravens learned that they had lost running back Kenneth Dixon for the entire season because of surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Dixon, a fourth-round pick in 2016 who ran 88 times for 382 yards and two touchdowns, was expected to complement Terrance West (Towson University, Northwestern High) as the primary ball carriers this fall.
Asked if he was surprised that the Ravens expressed interest in him, Rainey replied, “I was, but I wasn’t. Ever since I left here, I’ve always thought that I would come back here. Even when I left and went to Cleveland, before I went to Tampa, they put a bid in to bring me back. So I always thought that was the deal because I had that connection with them.”
Rainey, who did not play in his rookie season with the Ravens, has a combined 1,053 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 266 attempts with the Browns, Buccaneers and Giants. The 29-year-old has also caught 71 passes for 530 yards and two scores and has averaged 24.8 yards on kick returns and 9.2 yards on punt returns.
Rainey said participating in returns has not been mentioned yet. Instead, his focus is on learning offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s playbook and trying to carve out a spot in a running back position that features West, Danny Woodhead, Javorius “Buck” Allen, rookie Taquan Mizzell and possibly fullback Lorenzo Taliaferro.
“It’s the same as when I came in my rookie year — just doing what I do,” he said of his mindset. “I can’t focus on the other guys. I’ve got to focus on me. For one, it’s starting off with the plays. I’ve got to learn the plays first and then do what I do.”