Diminutive running back Bobby Rainey might have been the Ravens' most productive offensive player last preseason, rushing for 55 yards and catching a team-leading 14 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. When the Ravens made their final cuts in 2012, the undrafted rookie learned that he had made the 53-man roster as the No.3 running back behind Ray Rice and fellow rookie Bernard Pierce.
However, on the eve of the team's Monday night regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, Rainey was cut in favor of running back Anthony Allen, who was re-signed because of his lead-blocking ability in front of Jacoby Jones on returns. The move prompted a change of focus for Rainey, who enters this preseason with a different approach to making the team.
"Right now, my biggest thing is just focusing on special teams. I basically need to get a spot on special teams," said Rainey, who spent the majority of last season on the practice squad and injured reserve and didn't see game action. "Offensively, I think everything will take care of itself."
Rainey said that he treated last season like a redshirt year and used the time to learn how to watch film and approach NFL practices. He paid particular attention to special teams, knowing that was his ticket to stick on the roaster. The Ravens have made it clear that the No.3 and No.4 running backs — if they do take four — will need to contribute on special teams to justify their roster spots.
"Whatever they are asking me to do, it doesn't matter what phase of it is as long as I get a spot on special teams," Rainey said. "I'll be ready.
A Rutgers reunion for Rice
Rice has remained close to his college coach at Rutgers, Greg Schiano, but Thursday night gave them a rare opportunity to catch up even though they were on opposite sidelines. Schiano, who coached Rutgers from 2001 through 2011, is entering his second year as head coach of the Buccaneers.
He was hardly the only familiar face to Rice and former Scarlet Knights teammate Alex Silvestro, now a Ravens tight end. The Buccaneers have nine players on their roster whom Schiano coached at Rutgers, including Rice's former backfield mate, Brian Leonard.
The Ravens entered Thursday's opener 40-27 all-time in preseason play, including 13-7 under Harbaugh. … Former Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last weekend, said on his Twitter feed that he'd get his Hall of Fame ring at the Ravens-New York Jets game on Nov.24. … The Ravens unveiled a minor change in their uniforms, with solid purple along the collar rather than the visible white seams. … The list of inactives for the Buccaneers included guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, cornerback Darrelle Revis and kicker Lawrence Tynes.