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Geno Stone shined in his preseason debut but knows there is still work to be done

The former sixth-round pick made the most of his first chance at extensive defensive snaps in an actual game.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The last time that Baltimore Ravens’ second-year safety Geno Stone had multiple interceptions in a game was all the way back in high school. It came in the second-to-last game of his senior year at New Castle High School in New Castle, Pennsylvania when he picked off three passes.

While he fell one shy of matching that total in the team’s 17-14 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 of the preseason, his two interceptions accounted for a third of the six turnovers that the Ravens’ defense forced in the game.

“I’ll take as many more as I can get,” said Stone in his post-game press conference. “It was just fun being out there. It was probably my first real ball since college – playing defense.”

Stone was drafted in the sixth round of last year’s draft out of Iowa and spent most of his rookie year bouncing between the Ravens’ practice squad and active roster, before finishing the year as a member of the Houston Texans. He only appeared in two games and only played 40 total snaps with most of his action coming on special teams and just two coming on defense.

He had a reputation of being a ball magnet in college and was a very highly-rated prospect that the Ravens received major kudos for landing so late in the draft. Without a preseason last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t have any exhibition games against live competitions to show what he can do if given extensive reps. He must not have enough in practice for the coaching staff to trust playing him on defense despite their lack of depth at the safety position last season.

Stone was one of many Ravens defenders on the night that was playing fast, physical, and flying to the football. He showed tremendous hustle and was all over the field, showing good range in the process in addition to ball skills.

As exhilarating as it was for Stone to have the best night of his career to date, he knows that he hasn’t secured anything yet. While he might not be squarely in the roster bubble at the moment after such an impressive performance, that could change if he gets complacent and doesn’t continue to improve.

“Honestly, I’m still trying to process it all,” said Stone. “It was a great night for me, but at the same time, I can’t just think about this night. I’ve got to think about next week and the week after that. Not even next week – [but] tomorrow.”

“I just want to get better each day. I felt like I got better today, but at the same time, I’ve got stuff to work on. You always have something to work on. I’m just ready to keep improving, get better working with these guys in the locker room.”

In addition to not having a preseason prior to his rookie year due to the pandemic, Stone and the rest of the 2020 draft class across the league weren’t able to hold in their offseason programs in person.

They were forced to conduct them virtually and learn their playbooks on their own until training camp. Being able to have Minicamp and Organized Team Activities this time around has been instrumental in the development of all of the first and second-year players.

“It definitely has helped a lot – especially OTAs,” said Stone. “I didn’t have OTAs last year, and I felt like this year, going into the spring, I took a really big leap because the OTAs are really just for building the playbook and everything like that.”

“I learned my playbook, learned the positions, and I feel like it really helped me a lot today, and it’s helped me all [training] camp. I feel like it’s really a good thing for our young players to get, and I wish I had it last year, honestly.”

Stone was waived twice by the Ravens as a rookie before landing with the Texans. He didn’t re-sign with the team that drafted him because he believes that he has unfinished business, but rather because he feels at home in Baltimore. He also believes that Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s scheme gives him his best chance to succeed.

“It was really just me getting somewhere where I felt was best for me. Baltimore, when I first got here, it’s a really special place,” said Stone. “I can tell when I first walked into the building with the players, the head coach, and all the way up. Just definitely somewhere that I wanted to come back when I talked to my agent about it. I love this place, honestly.’”