Last season was a memorable one for former University of Maine All-American defensive lineman Pat Ricard.
Not only did the Spencer, Massachusetts, native earn a Baltimore Ravens roster spot as an undrafted free agent, he became one of only five NFL players who was on the field for 10 or more plays on both offense and defense.
The Ravens used him as a fullback and tight end on offense. He was primarily a blocking back but wound up catching four passes, including two for touchdowns.
He logged 143 plays on offense and 37 on defense.
Ricard was pleased with his rookie season and said he devoted his offseason to bulking up in the hope of seeing more time on defense.
“I really want to help the team more defensively,” said Ricard, who made one tackle on Sunday in the Raven’s 47-3 victory over Buffalo.
Ricard now weighs 305 pounds, 10 more than last season. He got a lot of snaps on the defensive line during the preseason and played the entire final exhibition game there.
“I wanted to improve my versatility and make more of an impact on both sides of the ball,” Ricard said. “The offseason really helped me.”
He was involved in 15 tackles during the preseason, including seven solos. He posted three tackles and two assists in 16 games during the regular season last year.
With a year under his belt, Ricard said he felt more familiar with the routine this preseason.
“I was in the system the whole year on both sides of the ball, I know the guys on the team and I got used to the Baltimore area. It was a little less stressful,” said Ricard, who caught a touchdown pass during the preseason.
He said he also has a better grasp of the techniques this year, but isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I feel I have to prove myself every day,” said Ricard, who is in the second year of a three-year, $1.6 million contract.
Following the Ravens’ 33-7 exhibition win over the Los Angeles Rams, in which Ricard caught a 6-yard TD pass, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh praised Ricard and his ability to play two ways.
“It takes an athlete, first of all. He’s a good athlete,” Harbaugh told The Ravens Wire. “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.”
Ricard made four tackles and had a quarterback hurry in the Rams game during which he played against former UMaine teammate Jamil Demby, who is rookie left guard.
“Very impressive versatility from Patrick Ricard, right?” Harbaugh said. “I graded the tape yesterday. I don’t think I gave him a minus the whole time. I think it was all plusses. That’s pretty remarkable for a guy playing offense and defense.”
Ricard has received a lot of media attention about being an undrafted free agent who is also a two-way player.
“I’ve embraced it. It has been awesome. I love it. It has given me more attention. It has helped me,” Ricard said.
He hopes his notoriety might pay dividends down the road.
He is excited about the season and thinks the Ravens are in good shape, especially with starting quarterback Joe Flacco healthy after dealing with a back injury a year ago.
“The offensive has improved dramatically and Baltimore has always been a great defensive team,” Ricard said.
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