It was a pretty nice homecoming for Rainey, the Griffin native who signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in April after a standout career at Western Kentucky University. Rainey, 24, said after Thursday’s game he still has a chip on his shoulder after not being drafted in April, especially after he twice finished second in the nation in rushing yards and became WKU’s all-time leading rusher. Baltimore (1-0) put Rainey to good use Thursday against Atlanta (0-1), getting him 22 total touches in the backfield and special teams and he scored his first pro touchdown on a screen pass in the fourth quarter in front of more than 30 friends and family.
“I am so glad the Ravens signed me and gave me the opportunity to play NFL football. Scoring the TD reminded me of my college days and to score at home was great,” Rainey said. “I have to give credit to the offensive line.”
Rainey finished with 12 carries for 36 yards, 3 receptions for 28 yards and a TD, 1 kickoff return for 26 yards and had 6 punt returns Thursday. His longest punt return was for 15 yards. The former Griffin High standout last played in the Georgia Dome in Nov. 2005 in a state Final Four game against Statesboro High, a 7-0 loss which ended his junior season.
“Rainey is a football player and we liked him coming out of college. He was well-coached by Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky and he had a great career there,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “He did things in tonight’s game that he does well in practice. There’s still some things he can do better, however.”
Rainey entered the game for the first time at 9:52 in the second quarter on special teams. Falcons punter Matt Bosher booted the ball to Rainey’s left and as he drifted over, he muffed the catch at the Ravens 17-yard line. Rainey recovered the ball quickly and returned it 15 yards to the Ravens 32.
“I started out a little shaky tonight. I was so anxious to go ahead and make a play that I didn’t catch the ball on that first punt,” said Rainey. “Once I got my first carry [in the third quarter], I got in the zone and then it became just about playing football.”
Rainey played throughout the second half and scored the game’s final TD at the 12:20 mark of the fourth. Ravens third-string quarterback Curtis Painter threw a screen pass to Rainey, who got a good block from rookie wideout Dorian Graham. He cut to the left to avoid two Falcons defenders, broke another tackle and scampered into the end zone, pounding his chest twice and pointing to his family. But he was so excited he forgot one important thing — the football from his first career NFL touchdown.
“I think I was too pumped up after I scored. I gave the ball to the ref and my position coach told me to get the ball so I could give it to my mom,” he said. “I did get the ball from the ref.”
But Rainey put the ball in his bag and the Ravens equipment people packed it away before he could give it to his mother. And speaking of Rainey’s mother, Janice Davis said she was pleased with her son’s performance in his first NFL game.
“Bobby did great; I’m very proud of him,” Davis said. “I was happy to see him score a touchdown in front of all his family and friends. It was a good night.”
Rainey said he still has to work on looking the ball in and running more “north and south” on punt returns.
“Coach Harbaugh said it’s best to run that way and not take any unnecessary hits,” he said.
Baltimore’s next preseason game is at home against the Detroit Lions Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. on Fox.