For many, last chance to catch on

Baltimore Sun - - NFL & RAVENS - Ed­ward.lee@balt­ twit­­wardLeeSun

Nei­ther rook­ies nor vet­er­ans are ab­so­lutely safe from get­ting the call to see the coaches at the end of this week. De­fen­sive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, who is back­ing up start­ing de­fen­sive tackle Timmy Jerni­gan, has been with the team since he was se­lected in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft, but said Tues­day that ten­ure does not pro­vide blan­ket se­cu­rity.

“I re­ally don’t think about the fu­ture,” said the 6-foot-4, 315-pound line­man who has made seven tack­les in his sec­ond pre­sea­son; he missed the 2013 sea­son be­cause of an ACLtear and the 2014 sea­son be­cause of an Achilles ten­don tear. “What­ever hap­pens, hap­pens. I per­son­ally feel like I’m a good enough player to play in the NFL — whether that’s here or some­where else. But ob­vi­ously, I def­i­nitely want to play here. But I don’t dwell on things that I can’t con­trol. The only thing I can con­trol is go­ing out ev­ery day with a smile on my face and a great at­ti­tude and just do­ing any­thing to help this team win.”

That’s a com­mon mantra for Ravens try­ing to make the 53-man ros­ter.

Among rook­ies, former Navy quar­ter­back Keenan Reynolds might have the steep­est and most high-pro­file climb to a ros­ter spot. Af­ter chang­ing po­si­tions, he seems to be in a com­pe­ti­tion with third-year re­ceiver Michael Cam­pa­naro (River Hill) for slot-re­ceiver and pun­tre­turn du­ties. Cam­pa­naro, when healthy, has out­per­formed Reynolds, who will try to use Thurs­day night’s game to make a last­ing im­pres­sion on the coach­ing staff.

Left tackle James Hurst might be on firmed ground. The 6-5, 312-pound backup to rookie Ron­nie Stan­ley has started in 13 games the past two sea­sons, and NFL­cal­iber left tack­les don’t grow on trees.

But Hurst said he, too, can’t af­ford to be com­fort­able with his po­si­tion.

“I don’t like to think about se­cu­rity,” he said. “I knowthatIhave­to­be­abet­ter­player than I was yes­ter­day. That’s what I try to Wide re­ceiver Jeremy But­ler, who made the Ravens from the prac­tice squad in Oc­to­ber, said “small ac­tiv­i­ties” like read­ing help take his mind off try­ing to make the ros­ter. fo­cus on. This is a high-stress job for a lot of rea­sons, and I try not to think about that.”

Jeremy But­ler can em­pathize with those who have been cut. Af­ter spend­ing his rookie sea­son in 2014 on in­jured re­serve be­cause of a shoul­der in­jury suf­fered in train­ing camp, the wide re­ceiver was waived on the fi­nal day of the 2015 pre­sea­son.

But But­ler’s story has a happy end­ing — though it won’t re­ally be an end­ing if he makes the ros­ter to be­gin this sea­son. Signed to the prac­tice squad, he was pro­moted to the active ros­ter Oct. 26 and caught 31 passes for 363 yards in eight games.

“At the end of the day, we are hu­man,” But­ler said. “You build re­la­tion­ships with guys. But it is just the na­ture of the busi­ness we chose, and you have to deal with that. But you can’t re­ally let it con­trol your thoughts. You can’t re­ally let it linger on.”

But­ler leads the team in re­cep­tions (13), yards (114) and touch­down catches (two) in the pre­sea­son and can play on spe­cial teams, which sug­gests that his fu­ture is not as ten­u­ous as in pre­vi­ous years. But he said he has found a way to keep his mind off whether he will make the ros­ter.

“I started read­ing this year,” he said, adding that he is read­ing a Chris­tian book ti­tled “When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box.” “That has been help­ing me — read­ing a lot. Small ac­tiv­i­ties — I like fish­ing. I went fish­ing with a team­mate. Play­ing [video games], [‘NBA] 2K.’ We play that a lot. I’m just en­joy­ing the mo­ments of life in gen­eral. At the end of the day, we still have a life to live. That is howIap­proach it.”

Reynolds’ ap­proach to his fu­ture in­volves un­der­stand­ing that he is one of nine wide re­ceivers on a team that doesn’t have enough room for all of them.

“In my mind, ev­ery­body out here is fight­ing for a job,” he said. “No­body’s safe, and that’s cer­tainly how I feel.”

Per­haps more than any other player’s, Reynolds’ bid in­volves a dras­tic po­si­tion change.

“The big pic­ture [is], he’s a quar­ter­back go­ing to re­ceiver, so ev­ery­thing is like a foun­da­tion,” coach John Har­baugh said. “He has to make strides ev­ery­where. He does that very well ev­ery day.”

Reynolds said the coaches told younger play­ers to ex­pect to play ex­ten­sively Thurs­day as starters and some valu­able back­ups likely won’t get onto the field. That could mean plenty of chances for play­ers such as Reynolds, who is look­ing to prove his worth.

“Grate­ful for this op­por­tu­nity, grate­ful to be out here for an­other day, grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to put on the uni­form one more time be­cause the next day isn’t promised,” he said.

“You should play each play like it’s your last.”


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