AFC North: Aaron Mellette

It's time to click open this weekend's Baltimore Ravens mailbag ...


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Baltimore Ravens starting defensive lineman Arthur Jones has "a chance" of playing Sunday after missing the past two weeks with a heart condition, coach John Harbaugh said Friday.

Jones revealed this week that he hasn't played since the Aug. 22 preseason game because of a racing heartbeat that would not settle down. He was cleared to return to practice this week and has been limited in workouts. Marcus Spears replaced Jones in the starting lineup in the season opener.

"He didn't get too out of shape," Harbaugh said. "He's progressing well. We're going to have to see how he feels on Sunday. He looked OK at practice. But that's something we're going to have to see how he's feeling on Sunday. So, he's got a chance."

Harbaugh also addressed the team's decision to place rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette on injured reserve Wednesday. There were questions about Mellette's knee injury, because he wasn't on the injury report last week and he didn't play in the season opener.

According to Harbaugh, Mellette's knee bothered him throughout training camp, and the seventh-round pick had to sit out when the knee swelled up. Harbaugh said Mellette learned he had two cartilage tears after seeing a specialist.

"It's not major, major," Harbaugh said. "But they're four-to-six week deals, and we don't really have time for that in terms of holding a roster spot. So, we figured we'd go and make the roster move and get him healthy."
In a move that was unexpected, the Baltimore Ravens placed wide receiver Aaron Mellette on injured reserve, opening up a roster spot for running back/returner Shaun Draughn.

It makes sense in one respect. Putting Mellette, a rookie seventh-round pick out of Elon, on IR ends his season, but it's one way to keep a developmental player. If you try to put him on the practice squad, you risk him getting picked up by another team.

Still, there was no indication that this move was coming or that Mellette was even injured. It was announced that Mellette has a knee injury. Mellette wasn't on the Ravens' Week 1 injury report (which means he had full practices) and he didn't play in the season opener. The Ravens did practice twice since Thursday's game, but coach John Harbaugh sounded optimistic about Mellette playing at some point this season after Monday's practice.

"He’s playing well," Harbaugh said of Mellette. "There’s nothing that he’s doing that wouldn’t make him a possibility to be active."

Mellette showed potential in the preseason, but he was surpassed on the depth chart by undrafted rookie Marlon Brown. The Ravens currently have six wide receivers on the roster, although only four are healthy: Brown, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones (injured, knee), Brandon Stokley, Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson (injured, foot).
One of the biggest questions still facing the Baltimore Ravens is figuring out who will be the team's No. 2 wide receiver. While no one has stood out in the first two preseason games, the defending Super Bowl champions are hoping for some clarity in Thursday's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers (which, on a side note, you can watch on ESPN).

Asked about the Ravens' position battles in general, coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Sunday, "I think it’s starting to clear up and there’s going to be a lot of things determined this week, not just in the game but also in practice. We’d like to have those battles decided by the time we finish this next game and then we’ll probably have a few roster decisions to make after the last game.”

Based on the Ravens' first two preseason games, the Ravens haven't learned much other than Jacoby Jones hasn't stepped up to win the job. Jones is a Pro Bowl returner but he is not a natural receiver. Jones has one catch on four passes thrown his way, and both of Joe Flacco's interceptions have come when targeting Jones. In the preseason opener, Flacco was picked off on a pass thrown late to the sideline, but Jones didn't fight to break it up. Last week, Flacco threw the ball to the open space in tight coverage and Jones didn't adjust, which led to the other interception.

The Ravens have a tough decision because none of the other receivers competing against Jones have stood out. Tandon Doss hasn't been targeted once by Flacco, and Deonte Thompson could miss his second straight preseason game with a foot injury. Recently signed Brandon Stokley may also see increased playing time in Thursday's preseason game. And, in Sunday's practice, rookie seventh-round pick Aaron Mellette and undrafted rookie Marlon Brown received reps with the first-team offense over Doss.

Halfway through the preseason, all that the Ravens have learned about their receivers is Torrey Smith is their top target and they knew that before they reported to training camp. Smith has caught all four passes thrown in his direction and has accounted for 70 percent of Flacco's receiving yards (101 of 144). The Ravens have to find someone who can take some of the pressure, and attention from defenses, off of Smith.
There's a chance that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton could press Emmanuel Sanders for playing time. There was no chance that the Baltimore Ravens were going to take wide receiver Quinton Patton in the fourth round. And then there is new Browns wide receiver Davone Bess, who is happy he received a second chance. For more on this chatter about wide receivers, continue reading today's wake-up call ...

RAVENS: General manager Ozzie Newsome said the team wasn't planning to draft Louisiana Tech's Patton in the fourth round, where the San Francisco 49ers picked him right before Baltimore went on the clock. “Did one receiver get taken when we were set to take the guy? No, that did not happen at that point,” Newsome said after the draft, via the team's official website. The only receiver drafted by the Ravens was Elon's Aaron Mellette in the seventh round. “Were there receivers in every round that we considered? Yes,” Newsome said. As far as Aaron, when we got to that point in the draft, he was our highest-rated guy, and that’s why we decided to take him."

BENGALS: Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is getting a familiar vibe when hearing the Bengals' plans of putting first-round pick Tyler Eifert on the field at the same time as Jermaine Gresham. Green-Ellis played for New England, where the Patriots used frequently used tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez as a tandem. "Long story short, if you have two tight ends and they are both big guys and you don't feel like you have to cover them with DBs, it actually brings more people in to the box," Green-Ellis said, via the team's official website. "If you have two guys and you feel like one of them is really a receiver then you approach it differently."

STEELERS: The Steelers used a third-round pick on Wheaton, just like they did four years ago with Mike Wallace. Wheaton, who averaged 13.2 yards per catch, doesn't bring the big-play numbers, but the Steelers think he comes more well-rounded than Wallace, who signed with the Dolphins in free agency. "I saw Mike as more of an outside receiver, outside the numbers," offensive coordinator Todd Haley told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "This guy has played the slot a bunch when he wasn't outside. He is a little wider base [than Wallace], a little more running back build, in my opinion. The speed comparison -- it's hard for anyone to run faster than Mike, but this guy does play fast."

BROWNS: Bess doesn't believe he would be the same man today if he hadn't endured the misery from his past. Ten years ago, Bess spent 15 months in juvenile detention and lost his scholarship to Oregon State after he gave some friends a ride in his car after they had robbed a store. “Those heartaches, those tough times, those experiences in my cell molded me into the man I am today. At the time, being a young adolescent, I didn’t understand it. But being older now, I’m so thankful of those moments," Bess said in a conference call, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “My whole thing was going back, not only into the inner city, but abroad or wherever, and teaching, not only kids, but whoever, everybody, that there is a best route."
A quick recap of what the teams in the division did in the final two rounds ...

CINCINNATI BENGALS: Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead (sixth round) is smart, competitive and versatile (can line up in wildcat). There are questions about durability considering his injury history. ... Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton (sixth round) is a big possession receiver and strong blocker. He has to prove he can get separation. ... Ohio State OT Reid Fragel (seventh round) moved from tight end to the offensive line last year, so he needs to work on his technique. He plays with an edge. ... South Carolina C T.J. Johnson (seventh round) uses his size well in the run game but looks heavy-footed in pass protection.

CLEVELAND BROWNS: Yes, the Browns did actually draft some players on Day 3. Notre Dame S Jamoris Slaughter (sixth round) is about 90 percent recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon, which caused him to fall from being a third-round prospect. He is known as a leader with good football IQ. ... East Central Oklahoma DE Armonty Bryant (seventh round) is a character risk after being arrested for selling marijuana to undercover police. On the field, he finished with a school-record 26.5 sacks. ... Chadron State guard Garrett Gilkey (seventh round) is a Division II tackle who will move to guard. He's added 70 pounds since high school.

BALTIMORE RAVENS: Notre Dame DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (sixth round) tore his ACL in the BCS championship game and may sit out this season. He's a blue-collar prospect who has had trouble staying healthy. ... Colorado State-Pueblo guard Ryan Jensen (sixth round) is a small-school four-year starter at tackle who will move inside in the NFL. He plays with a mean streak. ... Elon WR Aaron Mellette (seventh round) has good size (6-feet-2) and doesn't shy away from contact. He was outclassed against big-school defenders at the Senior Bowl. ... California CB Marc Anthony (seventh round) is a physical press corner who doesn't have the closing speed to match up with faster receivers.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Penn State's Justin Brown (sixth round) is the second wide receiver drafted by the Steelers this week. Brown brings size (6-3) but not game-breaking speed. ... Florida State ILB Vince Williams (sixth round) is a two-down player who can stop the run. He will provide depth because the Steelers don't expect Sean Spence (knee injury) to play this season. ... Samford DT Nicholas Williams (seventh round) is a raw prospect who is a former basketball standout. He has upside as a pass-rusher.