Monday, August 26, 2013
Some separation in Ravens' receiver battle
By Jamison Hensley
In watching the Baltimore Ravens' last preseason game, Marlon Brown didn't look like an undrafted rookie and Tandon Doss did.
There was some clarity achieved in the pecking order for the Ravens' receivers. The top three are locks: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Brandon Stokley. Brown was the big winner from Week 3 and became the front-runner for the No. 4 spot. Doss, a former fourth-round pick, is squarely on the bubble heading into the preseason finale. He is likely battling LaQuan Williams, Aaron Mellette and Deonte Thompson for the final one or two spots (depending on how many receivers the Ravens keep).
It really comes down to being on the same page with Joe Flacco. There's an instant rapport with Stokley, who picked up a couple of third downs. There's a building chemistry with Brown, who ranks first on the Ravens in catches (six) this preseason and second in receiving yards (90).
"Just the fact that I went in the first quarter with the ones [starters] meant the guys upstairs have confidence in me," Brown said.
But that rhythm hasn't surfaced with Doss. It was only two years ago when Flacco endorsed Doss after watching film of him at Indiana, which led the Ravens to take him with the 123rd overall pick. Then, last Thursday, Doss extended a disappointing summer by running the wrong route, which led to an interception.
Williams may have an edge because he's an impact special-teams player. Mellette could be kept on the practice squad to develop. The toughest decision may be what to do with Thompson, who hasn't played since hurting his foot in the preseason opener. The Ravens have to figure out when Thompson can return and whether they want to hold a roster spot until he gets healthy. Another potential option is putting him on injured reserve.
The final major cutdown is Saturday, when teams must reach the league limit of 53 players by 6 p.m.