It’s a tradition in the NFL for veterans to require rookies to sing in front of the whole squad during training camp. It’s not the nasty bit of hazing from the old days when first-year players might get tied to the goal posts or be forced to do unthinkable things with jockstraps. Nah, this is just some good, clean football busting.
Many teams make the rookies sing their college fight song. The Ravens allow their guys to pick their own songs.
Appropriately, sixth-round pick and former Penn State star Trace McSorley chose “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the popular Journey song from the 1980s.
“I knew I wouldn’t mess up the words,” he laughed.
McSorley played four seasons for the Nittany Lions and holds every significant record for quarterbacks there. He was not drafted to be the Ravens quarterback. Lamar Jackson is their guy. So McSorley is looking to make a difference elsewhere.
“Trace is able to play kickoff return, punt coverage, punt return,” said special teams assistant Randy Brown. “He’s working hard at everything and doing a good job.”
» FROM THE ARCHIVES: Trace McSorley has moxie, heart
McSorley has one TD pass and two interceptions through two preseason games. Robert Griffin III has not played because of a thumb injury but is expected to be available to serve as Jackson’s backup by the time the Ravens open the season Sept. 8 at Miami.
This hybrid spot the Ravens are hoping to carve out for McSorley is being done elsewhere in the league.
The best example is New Orleans, where the Saints have turned former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill into a multidimensional weapon. Hill runs the ball out of a wildcat formation, was the Saints’ leading kick returner in 2018, and last year made a first down on a fake punt to help beat the Eagles in the playoffs.
“There are only so many active players on the roster and only so many you get to play on game day,” McSorley said, as sweat poured from his signature white bandana. “I think everyone is just trying to make use of anything possible. If there’s a guy who can do a couple things, whether in a backup role or something like that, I think teams are exploring all options.”
Following Monday’s joint practice, McSorley and Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders stopped to chat despite the stiffling heat. They played three seasons together at Penn State and said it was good to be on the same field again. Even if they were on different teams.
“He’s been showing it in preseason games. They say he’s not a quarterback,” Sanders said before turning to McSorley. “What are they trying to get you to do? Get you to play receiver? Safety?”
“They put me all over,” McSorley said laughing.
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For the record, he’s not playing safety. But he does seem to be enjoying himself, and he won’t stop believing he can find a place in the NFL..
“It’s a little bit different, but it’s a little bit fun,” he said. “As a quarterback, you always have to be in control and aware of everything that’s going on. On special teams, you can play a little bit with your hair on fire, be aggressive, run hard, and go get the ball.”