The promise Bronson Kaufusi showed in his senior year at BYU, when he had 11 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, impressed the Ravens enough to select him in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. But a broken left ankle during training camp on Aug. 4, 2016, sidelined him for the season.
So it’s perfectly understandable that the 6-foot-6, 285-pound defensive end is looking forward to returning to the field.
“I cannot wait to get out there,” Kaufusi, 25, said Tuesday afternoon after the team’s first day of a three-day mandatory minicamp. “I can’t tell you. It’s that constant fire in me that’s burning. I want to be out there, I want to help, I want to make a difference.
"So for me, coming out here, it’s a blessing to be out here in OTAs, the spring and being able to rehab all the way back with the training staff. … I just love it. I love this game, I love everything about it, being with my teammates, all of that.”
Kaufusi may be expected to make an impact sooner than later. With Lawrence Guy departing after signing a four-year, $20 million contract with the New England Patriots on March 11, fourth-year end Brent Urban has been the first player in Guy’s spot in the defense’s 3-4 alignment. But Kaufusi and rookie Chris Wormley are vying for playing time.
As frustrating as sitting out his rookie season – which included missing the team’s Organized Team Activities and mandatory minicamp with a back injury – was, Kaufusi said he put the time to good use by learning from Guy and former defensive end Timmy Jernigan, now playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I took it as a way to learn from those veterans and just to see how they work and how they study the film and how they take care of their bodies and how they practice," he said. "All those things, I was picking up on and taking mental notes so that I could use it as I move forward.”
Kaufusi acknowledged some hesitancy on his part about testing his surgically repaired ankle during the team’s offseason workouts.
“But when you get out there, I know I put the work in from the surgery through the rehab,” he said. “I really have a lot of trust in [trainer] Mark Smith and all that he’s done and his staff. So being able to put the hay in the barn and go out and make it happen is really my mindset.”
So does Kaufusi have a benchmark he would like to hit in his debut?
“For me, I want to make a difference,” he said. “No matter what it is, no matter where it is on the field, I want to get out there and make plays for our team, for our defense, and just contribute.”
End zone: Rookie tight end Barrett Burns was released to make room for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. … Former Ravens linebackers Adalius Thomas and Jarret Johnson attended practice.