Keenan Reynolds has been an oft-talked about player here on Baltimore Beatdown. However, the biggest question is his ability on the football field. Can he make the 53-man roster for the Baltimore Ravens?
Reynolds was drafted in the 2016 draft as a wide receiver, a position that he had never played before. As a quarterback with the Navy Midshipmen, Reynolds finished with 88 rushing touchdowns, an NCAA record. Baltimore saw potential in Reynolds as a receiver, after watching them during his Pro Day. They would ultimately draft him the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
After a couple fumbles and dropped passes during the 2016 training camp and preseason, Reynolds was cut by the Ravens. They would sign him to their practice squad, where he remained until Baltimore’s Week 17 regular season game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He did not participate in said game.
Since being cut, Reynolds looks much more stable in his route running and knows the playbook much better. The other thing that he has improved upon is working on his kick and punt returning skills.
In Week 1 of the 2017 preseason against the Washington Redskins, Reynolds made an electrifying play on a punt return. He returned the ball for 46-yards, shifting and cutting through the Washington’s punt coverage team like a Swiss Army knife. He hasn’t gotten another chance to get touches in the kicking game, but he is showing that he has playmaking ability.
Reynolds’ main competitor in the return game is Michael Campanaro. Campanaro has shown that he can make great plays as well, when he’s healthy. In three seasons with the Ravens, Campanaro has played in just 11 games, due to a litany of injuries. Baltimore has used Campanaro’s athleticism on jet sweeps and other ways to get the ball into his hands.
In two straight years, we have witnessed Campanaro make his best plays in the running game. In 2015 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was able to find the end zone on his first career rushing touchdown. Last season, Campanaro had zero receptions, but had three rushes for 72 yards. He averaged 24.0 yards per carry.
Campanaro has taken more snaps at wide receiver than Reynolds during the preseason and has accrued 45 yards on five receptions. On the flip side, Reynolds has produced more in the punt return game this preseason. Campanaro has just one punt return for four yards.
The key for making a roster decision between two players with a similar skill set is to choose the person who is healthier. Campanaro came into the preseason with a sprained toe, an injury that he suffered during OTAs earlier in the offseason. He’s suffered from back, thigh, and a reoccurring calf injury as well.
It’s not to say that Campanaro isn’t a good player when he plays, but Baltimore has to come to a conclusion soon. Choosing between Reynolds and Campanaro is hard because of the injury situation and Reynolds’ improvement since last year. During Saturday night’s game with the Buffalo Bills, we may come closer to that decision.