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Three years after making team as undrafted rookie, Ravens’ Patrick Ricard prepares for expanded role on offense | NOTES

As an undrafted rookie in 2017 out of Maine, Ravens fullback Patrick Ricard can empathize with the emotions that many of the team’s players are currently feeling with Saturday’s roster cutdown deadline looming.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, the team will have cut its training camp roster to 53 players, and a large portion of those releases will come from its undrafted free agent pool. That means that for many players, their NFL careers will have been dashed before they could really take off.

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“This year especially is so tough for undrafted guys,” Ricard said Friday on a virtual conference call. “You’re not given many opportunities. You didn’t have a rookie minicamp, [organized team activities] or regular minicamp, so this year is incredibly difficult. … I remember when I was undrafted, it was just constantly looking at the clock because 4 p.m.’s the deadline and you’re just thinking, ‘Are they going to come and get me?’”

Ricard worked his way onto the 53-man roster as a rare two-way player before establishing himself as a Pro Bowl fullback last season on the team’s record-setting offense. The evolution of the player affectionately known as “Project Pat” has taken another turn, as Ravens decision-makers mull an expanded tight end role for the 26-year-old.

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“[Patrick Ricard] has grown,” coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. “He played some tight end stuff last year, so I think he keeps expanding his in-line stuff, his motion, lining up even as a wide receiver out there. He’s been in all those types of situations in training camp — just like all of our guys do. Really nowadays, if you’re talking to a coach, they’ll tell you, ‘The tight end, the H-back, the U-back, the fullback, those guys become more interchangeable than ever.’”

Ricard said he shed a bit of weight from his 300-pound frame, dropping to around 290, and feels leaner and quicker, which could assist him if he’s relied upon more in the passing game.

Expanded practice squads and new game-week roster rules could allow the team to keep just two true tight ends and use Ricard in a hybrid role. That would allow the team to allocate a roster spot for depth at another position. It’s just one of the many roster questions the team will have to answer before the deadline.

“If you look at year’s past, every year my role has expanded in different ways,” Ricard said. “All I can do is come here and whatever my coaches ask me to do, I’m going to do it the best I can. I can’t really go into specifics about exactly what I’m doing. I think you’re just going to have wait until Week 1 for everyone to see.”

Extra points

  • The Ravens have partnered with Great 8s Memorabilia and Thread Level Midnight for a Mo Gaba tribute titled “Mo’s Rows.” The memorabilia and apparel stores have been given Section 146 at M&T Bank Stadium to sell cutouts of Gaba for the 2020 season. Money used to purchase a cutout will go toward various charities across Maryland. Gaba, a Ravens and Orioles superfan, died in July after a long battle with cancer.
  • Five Ravens did not practice Friday: wide receiver Chris Moore, running back Justice Hill, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, tight end Eli Wolf and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike. Cornerback Jimmy Smith returned after missing Thursday’s practice.
  • Greg Montgomery, an All-Pro punter who spent nine years in the NFL with the Ravens, Houston Oilers and Detroit Lions, has died. He was 55. Montgomery died Aug. 23, according to an obituary posted by Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service in Grand Rapids. Montgomery was an All-Pro in 1993 for the Oilers, and that was one of three times he led the NFL in punting. He finished his career with a 43.6-yard average in 142 games. He finished his career with Ravens in 1996 and 1997.

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