Catch up: Damion Ratley hopes to make late push for job

“I have to do what I do best, and that is to catch the ball and score”

Daryl Ruiter
August 19, 2019 - 6:50 pm

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Berea, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – As the saying goes, you can’t make the club from the tub.

Especially this year at receiver.

For Damion Ratley, he hopes a hamstring pull early in camp doesn't derail his bid to make the team.

“If I thought about the window being smaller, that’d be my only mindset,” Ratley said. “I don’t think like that. I just got to do what I got to do to make the squad. I love what I do, and it’s always fun doing what you love. It’s very fun to be back out there.”

Ratley, a sixth-round pick in 2018, pulled his hamstring on the second day of camp and on Monday he returned to team drills after practicing last Thursday against the Colts.

“I have been anxious the whole time,” Ratley said. “I have been trying to get in walkthrough or anything I can, but they would not let me do it. Control what you can control was a big thing for me. I just had to get back healthy to where I can go 100 percent when I get out there and not just get back out there at 75 percent and hurt myself again. That was a big goal.”

Three receiving jobs are already spoken for – Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins.

The suspension of Antonio Callaway for the first four games may have opened a door for him, but the competition is fierce.

“I like his range and his length. I like his speed. He has deceptive top speed,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said. “I just need to see consistency. I need to know what I am getting when he gets on the field. I need balls caught that are put on him. I need him to make catches that are contested catches. just like everybody else.

“He was doing that leading up to his injury. The contested catches were not on display, but in the spring, he was making those.”

Jaelen Strong and Derrick Willies, who made the team as an undrafted free agent a year ago, have impressed in camp and earned some first-team reps. D.J. Montgomery, Ishmael Hyman, Dorian Baker and camp longshot Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi are also in the mix.

“I love when those guys make plays,” Ratley said. “When they're making plays, that fires me up and makes me want to get out there faster and makes me get in the training room to get out there faster.”

Ratley caught 13 passes for 144 yards while appearing in 13 games as a rookie but that experience holds little weight this year, and he knows it.

“Last year was last year,” Ratley said. “We don’t worry about the past anymore. That was last year. That doesn’t mean anything to this year. I still have to go out there and make plays this year and try to make the team again. Last year, like he said, was last year. Last year does not matter with anything.”

So how does Ratley intend to make up for lost time?

“I have to do what I do best, and that is to catch the ball and score,” Ratley said. “Make a lot of catches and make a lot of plays on special teams. Be great at the position.”