When I talked to fullback Mike McLaughlin back in minicamps, the undrafted rookie said that the biggest thing that he needed to work on was learning the playbook and making sure he had the mental part of the game down.
Now that the shorts and shells have been traded for pads and full-contact practices, however, McLaughlin has changed his tune. The converted linebacker says that his goal from here on in is to work on the nitty-gritty fullback stuff.
"There's just little things I have to learn about blocking people," McLaughlin said. "Stuff that you don't really think of when you're running around in just helmets. But you realize it when you come on the field [in full pads]. Just how low you have to get, footwork, stuff like that, technique stuff that I've never done before that I really need to work on."
McLaughlin, who played inside linebacker at Boston College, might be new to the fullback position, but he looks like he's picking things up fairly well.
Known as a physical player who seeks out contact, he has the right temperament to play fullback, and while he still has a ways to go, he's shown good pop on a number of plays.
"I just learn by doing it, really," he said. "Just learn by watching, to me, the best fullback in the NFL in Le'Ron [McClain]. I watch him, try to follow him and do the best I can, but again, it's really new, it really is. And especially in pads, it's really, really different. But I'm getting there."
There is one aspect of McLaughlin's new job that feels comfortable to him - catching passes. The 23-year-old has shown impressive hands in the flat over the last week of practices, snatching balls in the flat and easily turning upfield.
"I don't know what it is, but since I was a kid, I've always had pretty good hands," McLaughlin says. "Just messing around in the backyard, playing catch and everything. I think that's something that just comes second nature, but the real fullback stuff is what I need to work on and get better at."
As the only fullback other than McClain on the Ravens' roster, McLaughlin's gotten plenty of reps at the position thus far.
There might not be a spot for him on the team's 53-man roster strictly as a fullback, but as a guy who can play on both sides of the ball, work on punt and kick units and even long snap, McLaughlin has a chance to make a name for himself in camp.