Ravens need to return to roots, focus on defense
Shaun Draughn doesn't yet have a regular nameplate above his locker at the Ravens training complex. But it's possible that just a few days after joining the Ravens, Draughn will have a regular job as the Ravens kickoff return specialist.
Draughn, 25, was signed by the Ravens on Wednesday to provide depth at running back and to help the special teams unit, which is expected to be without Pro Bowl kick returner Jacoby Jones (knee) for a month or more.
Draughn spent last season with the Chiefs, rushing 59 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 23 kickoff returns for a 23.3-yard average, and his season-long 41-yard return came against the Ravens.
Draughn, a North Carolina native, was originally signed in 2011 by the Redskins as an undrafted rookie. He was cut at the end of training camp and later joined the Chiefs practice squad before being promoted to the roster. Then he was among the Chiefs final cuts this August.
Draught said he was in Maryland with his girlfriend, who works in Baltimore, and was getting ready to move back to North Carolina when he got a call from Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.
"God works in mysterious ways, man," Draughn said as he stood in front of his locker, which had his name and number (38) written on a piece of tape above it.
"It really is like everything I prayed for when I got released from Kansas City," he added. "I just prayed that I'd be close to home, get to a team ... (with) a winning tradition. Clearly, I mean, Super Bowl defending champs. It speaks for itself."
Draughn said on Thursday that he was unsure whether his role would involve kick returning. But with Jones out and No. 2 returner Deonte Thompson (ankle) not expected to play this week, the options are limited. Bernard Pierce lined up at kick returner last week at Denver after Jones left with an injury, but all the kickoffs to him were touchbacks, and he has not had any kick returns in the NFL.
"He’s practicing in all the phases that we anticipate him playing for us," special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said of Draughn. "The decision will be made, obviously, prior to game time, whether he’s ready to go or not, or how he fits into the 46-man lineup. We like the things he did at Kansas City, and we played against him ourselves, so we knew of him. He’s a good player."