Monday, August 19, 2013
Will Ravens' No. 2 receiver battle clear up?
By Jamison Hensley
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.