When the New Orleans Saints drafted Ryan Ramczyk he wasn’t able to work, while he recovered from surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Since he started working, almost nothing has been able to get him to stop.
The Saints’ right tackle didn’t miss an offensive snap as a rookie first-round pick (No. 32 overall) in 2017. He missed less than a handful in his second season (he played 997) in 15 games, sitting out the regular-season finale against Carolina along with several other starters after the Saints already had secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
“I like to go through practice and get all the work you can get,” Ramczyk said. “I think it’s a big thing to be dependable in this league. Guys go down with injuries, it happens all the time. A lot of it is just misfortune – wrong place, wrong time. But to be able to be that guy that’s on the field consistent, that’s a point I take pride in.”
As important as has been Ramczyk’s availability – he just completed the first three-day OTA session for New Orleans – it possibly is smothered by his ability.
In his second season, he was named second-team All-Pro, the first Saints offensive lineman to earn the honor since guard Jahri Evans in 2013.
Since Ramczyk’s first NFL game, all he has displayed is the ability to ascend, regardless of circumstance. He started his first game, a road game against Minnesota, at left tackle and flipped to right tackle during the game because of an injury to Zach Strief. Then he started two games at right tackle. Then, he started at left tackle when Strief returned, only to flip again – in game, again – when Strief suffered a season-ending injury.
“(All-Pro) is great recognition, obviously,” Ramczyk said. “I’m proud of it and I’ll just keep building off of it.”
“We saw such good play from him in his rookie year,” offensive line coach Dan Roushar said. “And there’s still snaps that he wants back, we want him to have back. But he just continues to improve. He has been very steady in what he’s done.
“He’s got exceptional feet and balance, and you see that in his play. He’s a very poised young man. He’s got a real good feel for it, his demeanor never changes. You don’t ever see him get too high and you never see him get too low. He’s just focused on the next play or the next drill, and he’s able to transition that to his play. But he’s very talented.”
Ramczyk’s evenness is an attribute that Coach Sean Payton routinely lists as one of Ramczyk’s strongest traits.
“If you go back to his history, after the completion of his final year at Wisconsin, he comes to us, he’s got a labrum injury in his hip so he misses all of OTAs, all of rookie minicamp, veteran minicamp,” Roushar said.
“So we really don’t know. He’s paying attention, you kind of feel his quietness, you feel his purposefulness, and you kind of start to get encouraged by his demeanor there. When we did get him onto the field, what we had seen and had hoped for, carried over. And it continues. He’s quiet in his approach, but you can tell that he’s very focused about what he’s doing.”
Too, he’s focused on perfecting what he’s doing. That’s what the past two offseasons have been about – keeping mistakes to a minimum, strengthening areas that need shoring up.
“I went back and looked at the film from last year and there was just a couple of things in pass pro, a couple of things in run that I just wanted to critique and get better at,” Ramczyk said.
There isn’t much doubt that he’ll put in the work to do so.
“I think Ryan’s got such a better understanding of what we’re trying to do,” Roushar said. “I think he’s so conscientious of the areas that he wants to make growth in, and so, I see him working very diligently to improve the little things, the details of his craft.
“He’s one of those guys, he doesn’t ever give up a rep. He wants every rep that he can possibly get. And so if it’s his turn, he’s taking it. He’s not giving it to anybody and the reason he’s that way is, he’s a perfectionist in what he wants to try to get done.”