OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It is rather commonplace for a high-school soccer participant to peer time on all sides of the ball — a large receiver doubling as a cornerback, for instance, or a working again taking part in linebacker at the aspect.
However in school, such gamers transform few and some distance between. And within the NFL this season, there was once in point of fact just one.
“I feel it’s amusing doing each,” Baltimore Ravens fullback and defensive lineman Patrick Ricard instructed USA TODAY Sports activities on Wednesday. “It’d be bizarre no longer doing it.”
Teammates name him “Mission Pat,” and he is an undrafted 300-pounder from a tiny the town in Massachusetts. He was once lately named to the Professional Bowl at fullback, the place he is helped pave the way in which for Baltimore’s record-setting dashing assault. However he additionally rotates in alongside the defensive position and performs often on particular groups.
In line with snap depend knowledge recorded via Soccer Outsiders, Ricard was once the one participant within the NFL this season to play no less than 100 snaps in all 3 levels of the sport. He is transform a actually distinctive participant — and a very important, but oft-forgotten, a part of Baltimore’s luck in 2019.
“I don’t know if folks see gamers like Pat Ricard on a week-to-week foundation,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman stated Wednesday. “I imply, what number of fullbacks are 305 kilos?”
Getting into Baltimore’s divisional-round matchup towards the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night time, Ricard’s season statistics are meager however expansive: 8 catches for 47 yards and a landing on offense. 9 tackles, one sack, one compelled fumble and one move defended on protection. (He is additionally blocked a kick on particular groups, for excellent measure.)
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It was once Roman who first approached the 25-year-old about the potential of taking part in each techniques, when Ricard was once an undrafted defensive lineman out of Maine in 2017. The Ravens’ outdated fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, had simply signed a freelance with the San Francisco 49ers. And not one of the gamers Baltimore was hoping would substitute him had stood out.
“I used to be within the hallway, simply going to my conferences and the entirety, and G-Ro got here as much as me,” Ricard recalled. “He simply stated, ‘Howdy, we’re going to have you ever attempt to rep at fullback. It’s simply going to be 90-lead. You’re simply going to line up in the back of the quarterback, pass lid as much as the Mike (linebacker).'”
So that is what Ricard did at apply that day. And when he shed an oncoming defensive finish on his technique to the linebacker, he stuck the training workforce’s consideration.
From that time ahead, he stated, taking part in on all sides of the ball has been “all I have identified” within the NFL. His versatility is a part of the explanation why the Ravens lately signed him to a two-year contract extension, which NFL Community reported is price $7.Three million.
“He does stuff that no person else does across the league,” teammate Nick Boyle stated. “Taking part in all sides is one thing you listen in highschool. You don’t in point of fact listen that during school, and also you by no means listen about it within the NFL.”
In line with Soccer Outsiders, Ricard was once at the box for 30.9% of Baltimore’s offensive snaps, 23.1% of the particular groups snaps and 14.6% of the defensive snaps in 2019. The one different NFL participant who is come as regards to the ones figures is Elandon Roberts of the New England Patriots, a linebacker who additionally performed 5% of his staff’s snaps as a fullback.
Ricard’s school coaches say they are not stunned that the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder has taken to his distinctive function within the NFL. He performed linebacker and working again at David Prouty Top College in Spencer, Massachusetts — a faculty that infrequently produces soccer gamers in a the town of simply 11,000 — they usually recruited him as a imaginable tight finish or defensive finish. Their protection wanted extra lend a hand on the time, in order that they performed him at finish.
After a redshirt season at Maine, a Soccer Championship Subdivision faculty, Ricard briefly earned taking part in time and emerged as a starter. He additionally added about 15 to 30 kilos to his body with every 12 months, making himself harder to dam. His weight, then again, by no means dampened his athleticism.
“There are just a few guys that whether or not they were given metal pipes of their bones or no matter, they simply lift extra weight however don’t glance it,” former Maine trainer Jack Cosgrove stated. “He’s a kind of guys.”
By means of his senior 12 months, Ricard had transform so dominant as a defensive lineman that Joe Harasymiak, who took over for Cosgrove in 2016, stated the staff needed to grasp him out of same old inside-run drills. In a different way, he would blow up his blocker and “actually destroy it.”
“Or we’d must script it — and that is most probably the primary time he’s going to listen to this — we might script it to run clear of him, so shall we depart him in and it wasn’t a large deal that we had been taking Pat out once more,” stated Harasymiak, who’s now an assistant at Minnesota.
Regardless that Ricard’s weight has fluctuated considerably over time, he stated he’s now a shockingly lean 300 kilos.
“It’s very misleading,” he stated proudly.
One of the most demanding situations of his twin function is that he must be big enough to tackle double groups as a lineman, however agile sufficient to catch passes from Lamar Jackson out of the backfield. He additionally has to separate his time between offensive and defensive conferences, and learn about 3 other recreation plans each and every week.
“It’s a credit score to him that he’s ready to grasp all of the ones on a week-in and week-out foundation,” Roman stated.
Ricard did not got down to be a two-way participant within the NFL (“I used to be simply looking to make the staff,” he stated) however he believes there could be extra gamers like him at the method. Gamers akin to Roberts and the New Orleans Saints’ Taysom Hill are proof of ways treasured it’s to be flexible, he stated. In some way, having a participant who can play a couple of positions neatly will also save groups a place on their lively rosters come Sunday.
“I feel you’re going to begin seeing it an increasing number of,” Ricard stated.
Others, regardless that, don’t seem to be so positive.
“It’s a pattern if folks can do it,” Boyle stated. “I don’t assume numerous folks can do what he does.”
Touch Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
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