The Ravens survived a comeback attempt by the Philadelphia Eagles Oct. 18 when the Eagles’ last-minute onside kick attempt landed in the hands of rookie punt returner James Proche, who says he is prepared to be more involved in the offense during the second half of the season.
“I definitely feel like I’m ready. Everybody would. That’s what you practice for — you practice to get ready for the games,” Proche said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 19. “That moment could’ve been within these first five games — somebody could’ve gotten hurt — so I’m just getting ready and maximizing the role that I have now, and that’s all I’m really focused on.”
Proche, 24, played college football at Southern Methodist University, where he recorded 301 receptions, 3,949 yards and 39 touchdowns for the Mustangs. During his senior season, he started in all 13 games and led the Mustangs with 1,225 yards (13th among FBS players) and 15 touchdowns (fourth).
Proche set multiple records during his time at SMU, including career marks for receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and consecutive games with a receiving touchdown. He was drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He has served as the team’s punt returner thus far.
“I am definitely blessed to be in the situation I’m in. When it’s time for me to take on a bigger role, whenever that is, I’m going to do that with the same process, the same mindset that I have now,” Proche said. “I’m just trusting the process, maximizing my role, and whatever comes next I’m just going to continue doing the same thing.”
During his first six games as a Raven, Proche has returned 15 punts for 131 yards. He has not yet caught a pass for the Ravens and is looking to make more of an impact on the offense during the second half of the season, starting with the upcoming Steelers matchup Nov. 1.
“I’m confident in my preparation. I catch a lot of balls throughout the week, so I’m confident in my preparation,” Proche said. “Every day I get out to practice about 45 minutes early, just to kind of get ready and reflect. I’m really thankful for the life I live and the decisions I made that led me up to this point.”
The Ravens clinched the 30-28 win Oct. 18 after a failed two-point conversion attempt by quarterback Carson Wentz during a frantic fourth-quarter comeback by the Eagles. Philadelphia kicker Jake Elliott’s ensuing onside kick settled in the hands of Proche.
“When I’m catching the ball, I’m doing the same thing every time: looking at the point [of the ball], so it’s just the same technique no matter how the ball’s coming,” Proche said of securing the onside kick.
The Ravens’ defense put on a solid performance for most of the game, finishing with three forced fumbles, 16 quarterback hits and six sacks — three of which came courtesy of Calais Campbell. On offense, Nick Boyle caught a touchdown pass, while Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards ran for touchdowns.
“We’ve got a lot of selfless guys — a lot of guys that are gritty, hard-working, and they just want to win,” Proche said of his teammates. “We all have one goal in mind. … It’s a hard-working environment, that’s something that fits me.”
For more from Proche, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox