JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Linebacker Donald Payne was among the five players claimed by the Jaguars on Sunday.
When his claim went through, Payne wasn't informed by his representatives or the Jaguars. Instead, the undrafted rookie from Stetson University was told by his former employers at the Baltimore Ravens' headquarters.
"I actually went into the Ravens facility [Sunday] going there to sign my practice squad contract," Payne said.
"I walked in and one of the personnel guys said 'Donald, you want to know the good news or the bad news first?' I was like 'What's going on?' And he said 'The bad news is you're not going to be a Baltimore Raven, but the good news is you were claimed by a team. You were claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, so you're going to Jacksonville.'"
It's just the latest twist in Payne's football career. The college safety, who spent the entire draft process training as a defensive back, was asked to play linebacker when he arrived in Baltimore.
Payne has only been playing the linebacker position since May. The position change has added to a steep learning curve for the small school product.
"I always thought I could play with the people at the higher levels [like] the FBS and NFL levels, but it definitely a change for me coming from the FCS," Payne said. "People were definitely a lot faster, people are definitely a lot stronger, smarter as well. It took a little acclimating to it when I was up in Baltimore. I think I'm progressing very well and learning on the fly."
The 5-foot-11, 226-pound rookie produced 538 tackles during his college career. His ability to wrap up opposing players helped him convert to linebacker.
He played on the weak side for the Ravens, which allowed for him to use his quickness to make plays. In three preseason games, Payne produced 15 tackles and a forced fumble.
Despite those stellar numbers, Payne failed to make the Baltimore roster.
"I wasn't really surprised, my position coach kept it real with me," Payne said.
The Ravens decided to keep one less linebacker and planned to sign Payne to the practice squad. Instead, he will get to play on the Jaguars' active roster.
Jacksonville will continue to use Payne at linebacker. The rookie said he has grown accustomed to playing his new position.
"I like the WILL position," Payne said. "It's a little more free roaming. It's kind of like how I played in college was as a free roamer. I'm up to play WILL or MIKE. I think I can learn the defense fast."
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