As an undrafted rookie last season, Bryan Hall was happy to make the Ravens' practice squad. But the second-year defensive tackle has made it known that a repeat trip to the practice squad is not one of his objectives.
"I told the coaches from the jump that I'm not going to be on the practice squad this year, and I'm going to show them why," he said after Monday's practice at the team's training facility in Owings Mills. "I've been up here this whole time working my tail off. I just want an opportunity to come out and play for the Ravens."
So far, it appears that Hall is being rewarded for his effort. He has joined nose tackle Terrence Cody and either defensive end Arthur Jones or rookie DeAngelo Tyson on the second defense, and Hall was inserted into the second quarter of Thursday night's 31-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons, finishing with a tackle and a quarterback hit.
Hall's goal shouldn't be interpreted as criticism of the practice squad. In fact, he said the time spent on the practice squad was immensely beneficial for his learning curve in the NFL.
"It's kind of like going through a redshirt year in college," he said. "You get to get a feel for everything, but actually, it makes you a lot more hungrier. Nothing like being at the AFC championship game and you're just watching it. It makes you want to come back out. You're grinding Monday through Saturday and then you have to watch everybody on Sundays. It got me another year to prepare and know the playbook in and out and what it means to be a Raven."
Hall is competing with Tyson and a trio of undrafted rookies in Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Terrence Moore for a spot on the defensive line. While some might assume that his year with the team gives him an edge, that's not how Hall is taking it.
"Some guys pick up the playbook real fast, and some guys take longer than others," he said. "I don't really worry about that. I've just got to go out and maximize what I do on the practice field and just have fun."
Fun is a perfect adjective for Hall, who may rival outside linebacker Terrell Suggs in terms of playfulness. In fact, that was the first thing pointed out by coach John Harbaugh when asked about Hall.
"You love his personality, first of all, if you've gotten to know him," he said. "You love being around him. I think he'll be an entertainer when he gets done playing football. But he is quick, he is athletic, he plays hard, he is smart. Exceptional quickness, exceptionally explosive player."