Patrick Ricard looking to become NFL's sixth two-way player of the past decade

Patrick Ricard has been practicing on defense and offense all summer. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- As an undrafted rookie, Patrick Ricard knows that making the Baltimore Ravens' 53-man roster would be an accomplishment.

Along the way, Ricard could make NFL history as well. He is pulling double duty for the Ravens these days, playing on the defensive line and in the offensive backfield as a fullback.

How unusual is this? In the past decade, only five players have totaled more than 50 snaps on offense and defense in a single season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. At 304 pounds, Ricard could also be the biggest fullback in league history.

Ricard has been practicing on defense and offense all summer, but he didn't get to play on both sides of the ball in a game until Thursday's preseason game in Miami. He lined up as a defensive lineman for eight snaps and got on the field as a fullback for five snaps.

"They let me loose," Ricard said. "It just feels great going out there and slamming people."

The Ravens are looking to replace Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who signed a four-year, $21 million with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency. Baltimore didn't do much to address the void, moving tailback Lorenzo Taliaferro to fullback and signing undrafted rookie Ricky Ortiz.

The outside-the-box option was Ricard, who played fullback in high school, which the Ravens didn't know at first. During offseason practices this spring, senior offensive assistant Greg Roman approached Ricard about giving fullback a try.

"I was like, all right, cool," Ricard said. "It's another opportunity to play and another chance to make the team somehow."

Ricard, a Colonial Athletic Association first-team defensive lineman out of Maine, has been one of the more pleasant surprises of training camp. He has been active and aggressive along the defensive front, and he's pushing former draft picks Carl Davis and Willie Henry for roster spots.

Ricard's versatility increases his value as well as his workload. He typically gets to practice two or three plays a day on offense, and his offensive meeting usually entails a 10-minute chat with Roman in the morning.

"Sizz [Terrell Suggs] calls me a traitor for going to the other side of the ball," Ricard said. "But it's all in fun. They all like it."

Roman has traditionally used more multiple-tight-end formations over the years. If that's the case and Baltimore needs a fullback for only a handful of plays, it might be smart to go with Ricard and not use a roster spot on lead blocker.

In Thursday's preseason game, Ricard provided the key block to spring Buck Allen's 16-yard run. He hit Trevor Reilly so hard that the Dolphins linebacker's helmet came off.

"When we put him in there in the spring, he looked like he was comfortable with it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He moved, he made decisions, he could see things and sort things out the way you would want to see a fullback do. He did just fine with it. He has had some experience, so we will just see how he does and keep working on it and see where it takes us."

If Ricard can pull off being a two-way player, he would become the first defensive tackle to play significant time at fullback since Dan Klecko did so with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008.

"I am happy for him," defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "Pat is doing a great job on defense and on offense. So he is making a statement for himself for a reason for the team to keep him around because he is that diverse."