In standout preseason, Patrick Ricard embraces multiple roles with Ravens

Having played defensive end for most of his high school and college career, Patrick Ricard has a certain fondness for the defensive side of the ball. But he said he relishes any opportunity to play — even if that means lining up as a fullback, as he has done since joining the Ravens as an undrafted rookie last year.

“It’s awesome,” he said after Thursday night’s 33-7 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Rams. “Touchdowns, sacks, all that, it’s just great. That’s just playing football, and that’s what I love to do. Any of those, I’m happy with.”

The Ravens, who signed Ricard as an undrafted free agent in 2017, have taken him up on that offer. Against the Rams, he totaled four tackles and one quarterback hurry on defense and caught one 6-yard pass for a touchdown on offense on 27 combined snaps on defense, offense and special teams. In a 17-16 preseason win against the Chicago Bears on Aug. 2 in Canton, Ohio, he played 50 combined snaps, which ranked 13th among his teammates.

Coach John Harbaugh said after reviewing film of the game against Los Angeles, he discovered that he did not give Ricard a single poor grade while assessing his performance.

Asked about Ricard’s ability to play on both sides of the ball, Harbaugh said: “I think it takes a lot. It takes an athlete, first of all. He’s a good athlete. I think some of the coaches that have seen him play are surprised that he can catch the ball the way he can. I don’t know why. If you watch the tape, he’s caught a lot of passes in the flat. We even threw him a rail route [against the Rams].”

The workload can be physically taxing on Ricard’s 6-foot-3, 311-pound body.

“I don’t really get a chance to sit down,” he said. “I have to go back and forth from coach to coach. But I do it in practice every day, and the coaches do a great job of giving me rest. Sometimes I will get a couple [minutes of rest] on offense and then go right back to defense. So I’m getting used to it so that when the game comes, I’m not as tired if I wasn’t doing that.”

Ricard said the biggest adjustment for him is the change in approach when he bounces from defense to offense and vice versa.

“When I’m on offense, it’s more execution and blocking my man,” he said. “On defense, I’m more violent and running everywhere. So it’s a little different.”

Ricard finished his rookie campaign making five tackles on defense and catching four passes for 12 yards and two touchdowns on offense, which earned him the label of top-rated fullback, according to Pro Football Focus. So does he have a preference for a certain position?

“As long as I’m on the field, that’s all I really care about,” he said. “I love defense. But if offense is a way for me to be on the field, I’m going to take it every day.”

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