IRVINE, Calif. — It was Thursday, which meant it was Jared Goff’s day to take questions from the assembled media. That’s how it has been every week since the start of training camp. Goff, the backup quarterback, has his own day to speak. Case Keenum, the starting quarterback, talks whenever somebody asks for him.
Keenum was asked if he currently feels like the starting quarterback.
“Yeah,” he said, “I do.”
And why is that?
“Because I am,” Keenum said. “And that’s the way I’m going to treat it. And even if I’m not, that’s how I’m going to treat it. To be ready to go. In my own mind. Maybe not in everybody else’s mind, but I’ve treated it like that ever since I was a kid.”
Based on this picture, it looks like the converted Navy quarterback is on the verge of sliding off the roster bubble. The Baltimore Ravens see it differently.
Coaches are raving about Reynolds’ aggressiveness on coverage teams, his work ethic, and his athletic skills.
“He is America’s finest in my view,” special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “You see him in the meetings, see him on the field. He is doing everything he can to get good at a lot of things, and we are practicing him at a lot of places. He has to find a place, and we have to find a place for him in the games. He is ready to roll.”
Reynolds was one of the most decorated players in Navy history as a triple-option quarterback, finishing as the FBS all-time leader in total touchdowns and winning more games than any other quarterback in school history. The Ravens were elated to draft him in the sixth round with the intention of switching him to a wide receiver and returner.
In two preseason games, Reynolds has struggled to get separation and has had only one pass thrown in his direction. He acknowledged the process has been “humbling.”
“This is the highest level and this is the best players in the world,” Reynolds said. “It’s definitely difficult no matter if you’ve been playing receiver position your whole life or a few months. I think I’ve gotten better throughout offseason workouts and [training] camp. I will continue to build on that.”
As a returner, Reynolds has had his troubles fielding punts. It seemed like he had one drop a day in training camp, and he has yet to return a punt in a preseason game (one fair catch). The Ravens didn’t give one opportunity to Reynolds for a punt return in last week’s preseason game.
Carroll has talked about Rawls and Michael forming a one-two punch. It’s unclear whether Rawls will see any action in the final preseason game next week against Oakland, but he’ll be ready to go when the season starts Sept. 11 against Miami.
Michael, meanwhile, has put himself in position to fill a complementary role. And if Rawls suffers a setback or a different injury, Michael will be the primary ball-carrier.
“A one-two punch sounds great,” Michael said. “I’m here to help contribute, help contribute to Thomas, Russell [Wilson], this offense. Just try to fit in.”
Carroll was asked when he realized that Michael appeared to be a changed man.
“I think we’re still learning,” Carroll said. “We’re watching him. This is about consistency now. It’s about the long haul and all of that.
“The first time we talked when he came back to us, we talked to him in John [Schneider’s] office, greeting him back and all that, and he was very humbled by what had happened. He had the signs of a guy who wanted to see if he could turn this thing around, and that’s where our conversation started. We’ve only thought of that and spoken to him in that manner and expected him to make this turn in hopes that he would, and he’s done a great job.”
Even though Wilson led the NFL in passer rating last season, Carroll still wants the run game to shape the Seahawks’ offensive identity. And with the opener a little more than two weeks away, it looks like Michael will join Rawls as the backs to carry the torch from Lynch.
“This drill busts his butt every time,” Cooper said, “because he doesn’t run like this. He’s used to running a certain way, so this gets him out of it. That’s why this is so dynamic: It makes an old dog have to learn new tricks.”