Baltimore Ravens rookie RB Bobby Rainey
Once the 2012 NFL Draft was over, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey and asked him, Are you ready to be a Raven?" Rainey answered in the affirmative and here he is now, in Training Camp trying to earn a roster spot. According to Rainey, the Washington Redskins had called him even before the Ravens did, but based on his collegiate head coach, Willy Taggart's relationship with the Harbaugh family, there was no decision to make.
Taggert had played for John's father Jack, when the elder Harbaugh was a head coach, which was good enough for Rainey. Despite the presence of the best all-around RB in the NFL in Ray Rice, Rainey wanted to join the team and give it his best shot. Ironically, both Rainey and Ray Rice are the exact same height and weight, giving the impression that Rainey could step in for Rice and the team would not have to alter the game-plan a bit.
However, Rainey has to make the team first and he has an uphill climb with a few solid players ahead of him on the depth chart. Second year players Anthony Allen and Damien Berry, as well as 3rd round draft pick Bernard Pierce, are all ahead of Rainey on the teams depth chart. At the same time, none of them have the statistics that Rainey piled up in his collegiate career.
Sixth overall in all-purpose yards in NCAA history, as well as back-to-back 1,500 yard seasons even made Rainey wonder why he wasn't drafted in the league's seven rounds. Willing to play whatever role the team needs him to, Rainey has hands of glue out of the backfield and the same low center of gravity that makes it tough to bring down Rice in the open field.
Rainey has spent time on Special Teams and if returning punts and kickoffs is what he needs to do as well as kick coverage, well, Bobby is open to earning a spot any way he needs to. If a player with Rainey's background is released with the hope of stashing him on their Practice Squad, it seems unlikely that at least one of the 31 other teams would not jump at the chance to give him a shot.
Currently, there is obviously no question that Rice will be the team's workhorse once again, and at some point Bernard Pierce will be given the chance to be his backup, as there was a reason the Ravens traded upto grab him in the third round of April's draft. That leaves both Allen and Berry for Rainey to compete with and while he can only control what he does on the practice and playing field, there is the chance that either or both can slip up enough to open the door for him.
There is another week before the team's first pre-season game, and Rainey will have that time as well as the following four weeks to prove he either deserves a longer look or that his stats were obviously padded against inferior opposition at a lesser level of play. After meeting and interviewing him, while no offense to any of the other RB's, this writer hopes he gets the chance to prove he belongs on the Ravens,...or not.