Pat Ricard added to his arsenal of talents during the preseason for the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens.
The former University of Maine All-American is one of the NFL’s few two-way players, a fullback and defensive lineman. Ricard carried the ball twice, and he gained four yards in an exhibition victory over Green Bay Packers. He picked up first downs with each carry.
He also recovered a fumble that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Justice Hill — on which he threw an important block.
“My experience is starting to show,” Ricard said. “I’m just trying to play as hard as I can on every snap.”
Ricard, in his third season with the Ravens, goes into Sunday’s 1 p.m. season opener at Miami listed as the starting fullback and as a backup defensive end and defensive tackle.
“It was a very productive preseason for me,” Ricard said. “I really focused on understanding the offense and the defense.”
Ricard’s status with the team appeared to be in jeopardy in December when racist comments and homophobic slurs posted on his Twitter account between 2011 and 2014 resurfaced.
The Ravens condemned the tweets, and Ricard issued a heart-felt apology.
“I talked about it to the media, my teammates and everybody involved with it,” Ricard said. “I have grown from that experience. I’ve moved on from it.”
Ricard, who signed as an undrafted free agent, is in the final year of a three-year contract. He will earn a base salary of $645,000 this season.
“We’re negotiating a new contract,” Ricard said.
He hopes this season to give the organization reason to give him a raise.
On offense, the 6-foot-3, 311-pounder will primarily be used as a blocker in short-yardage situations to open holes for running backs Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards and Hill along with quarterback Lamar Jackson.
During his rookie year (2017-18), Ricard caught four passes during the regular season, including two for touchdowns.
He is one of two former Black Bears in the NFL along with Los Angeles Rams backup left guard Jamil Demby, another former UMaine All-American.
Linebacker Sterling Sheffield was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals, and tight end Drew Belcher was released by the Arizona Cardinals.
On defense, Ricard registered a team-high three sacks among his six tackles in four preseason games.
In his first two seasons, he was involved in 10 tackles in 26 regular-season games.
“[Ricard is] in the backfield quite a bit on defense, and he’s in the backfield quite a bit on offense. That’s a good balance,” head coach John Harbaugh said on baltimoreravens.com last month. “He has played well, and he’s really establishing himself as a really valuable part of our team.”
Ricard said he enjoys running the ball and hopes he gets some regular-season carries.
“I want to do more than just block,” Ricard said.
Ricard is also on all of the Ravens special teams except the punt team.
Demby increased his worth by learning to play all five offensive line positions for the Rams.
“When you’re from a small school like Jamil and me, you have to make yourself as valuable as you can,” Ricard said of being able to play multiple positions.
Ricard said he has benefited from his relationship with first-year offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who had been responsible for the Ravens’ running game in Ricard’s first two seasons.
“He was the reason they put me at fullback,” Ricard said. “He always wanted me to catch the ball [as well as block].”
Roman has referred to Ricard as “The Hammer.”
The Ravens finished second in the NFL in rushing yards per game last season (152.6) and their 2,441 rushing yards rank second in franchise history.
Ricard, a native of Spencer, Massachusetts, is looking forward to Sunday’s opener. He said second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson has been impressive.
Demby, a second-year pro, is looking for his first action in an NFL regular-season game on Sunday when the defending National Football Conference champs visit Carolina.
The sixth-round pick of the Rams played in four exhibition games last month as he did in 2018. Los Angeles released him before the season opener last season, and he wound up on the Detroit Lions practice squad before being reacquired by the Rams late in the season and being added to their Super Bowl roster.
Demby is backing up fellow second-year pro Joe Noteboom, a third-round draft pick out of Texas Christian who played in all 16 regular-season games and three playoff games a year ago.