Now Ragland, who was cleared by the team's medical staff a little more than a week ago, is returning to a completely different landscape -- and a 4-3 defense he's never operated in before.
"It's great, it's going to let the linebackers move around and eat so I like it a lot," Ragland told reporters in Buffalo on Thursday. "Some things I still gotta get used to because I've never played in a 4-3 before but I'm getting there, taking my time with it."
Depending on Ryan's exact plans for Ragland, he could have been looking for completely different traits than new head coach Sean McDermott. In addition to adjusting his training and practice routine to life after an ACL tear, Ragland is trying to prevent himself from getting washed away by a new regime that is already starting to select its own brand of defensive player.
"Coming to the pros with some great guys like LeSean McCoy and Ritchie [Incognito], and the GM and everybody has you pegged to start then you get out there and you're playing and that happens, it's very tough," Ragland said. "But I know it happened for a reason."
Ragland credited the team's training staff for working overtime during his rehabilitation. Now, he's going to have to work overtime to assert himself as a top-tier middle linebacker.