As if there weren’t enough obstacles facing an undrafted rookie in the NFL, wide receiver Deonte Thompson knows his every move is being observed by Ravens coaches.
That can cut both ways depending on how the University of Florida product fares in training camp, but Thompson said he is simply thankful for the opportunity to make an impression with the coaching staff.
“They tell me that every day, you’re getting evaluated. So I want to go out there and show my talents,” he said Thursday. “I try to go out and do my best every day and give them something good to watch.”
Thus far, Thompson hasn’t done anything to hurt his chances to make the active 53-man roster. On Friday, he dropped a pass, but he also hung onto a football thrown by Tyrod Taylor despite an attempted strip by cornerback Corey Graham.
Thompson said he’s becoming more comfortable with the playbook and his teammates, which is a distinct departure from his first practice with guys like wide receiver Anquan Boldin and quarterback Joe Flacco during offseason minicamps.
“On my first day, I had a little nerves,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Man, it’s time to play now.’ But I got rid of that real quick.”
As a rookie, Thompson doesn’t get a chance to select which jersey to wear. But seeing him wear the No. 83 jersey that Lee Evans wore last season naturally raised the question whether Thompson was aware of the final play recorded by Evans in the 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
“I don’t know too much about that,” Thompson said of Evans’ inability to hang onto a potential touchdown catch. “[No.] 83, I just got it. … I’m not superstitious.”
With the organization adding a free agent in Jacoby Jones and a sixth-round pick in Tommy Streeter to a receiver corps that already includes Boldin, Torrey Smith, LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss, it would appear that Thompson has an uphill climb awaiting him. But coach John Harbaugh said he likes what he has seen from Thompson so far.
“Deonte Thompson is looking really good,” Harbaugh said. “He is fighting for a spot just like Tommy is. [He is] another [rookie] free agent who has got a chance.”
The Ravens have a history of finding gems among undrafted rookies. In fact, three of the 10 rookie free agents who have made starts for the team are still members of the organization. (They are inside linebackers Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe and defensive tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu, and Williams caught four passes for 46 yards last season.)
Thompson is hoping to add another chapter to that tradition.
“It definitely gives me hope,” he said. “I love this organization. I know that if you perform up to par, you can make the team. So I just want to go out and keep showing that I can play. If they say I can play, then I know I can play.”