“Why isn’t Laquan Williams considered a legitimate potential starter? He has been on the team for years and all I can remember of him are decent plays when given the opportunity. Plus, he’s a Maryland boy.” – Scott Zacharko
LaQuan Williams has a lot of people clamoring for him to get an opportunity, and even though fans love seeing a local product playing for the hometown team, the coaching staff couldn’t care less.
While he’s been a great contributor on special teams, Williams has struggled at times as a wide receiver. The times you see Williams on TV during the regular season making plays, they’re for special teams, not as a wideout.
In two seasons, Williams has only caught four passes. Last year, he was shut out completely.
The coaching staff has been very fair to Williams because they’ve given him shots to prove himself as a receiver when they see something promising in practice. I believe that Williams stood out even more last year than he has this year, but he buried himself on the depth chart with his performance during the preseason games. Williams dropped the ball both figuratively and literally during the third preseason game against the Detroit Lions when he was targeted six times and only caught two passes for 22 yards. There were multiple drops in that game, and at least one that cost the Ravens a touchdown.
This season, Williams has shown promise once again and had the best preseason game of his career against the Buccaneers. His performance caught the eye of the coaching staff and I’m sure he’ll be given an even greater opportunity to prove himself once again as a receiver. If Williams wants to gain the trust of the coaching staff that he can do this on a consistent level, he needs to back up his performances game after game in the preseason.
“Does Matt Furstenburg look like he will make the team?”- Bobby Sybert
Probably not. At this point, Furstenburg still has an opportunity to fight for the third tight end job but given the actions of the team signing two veteran tight ends with him still on the roster makes me think that the coaches haven’t seen enough from him. Furstenburg has great speed and I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. He can definitely utilize his feet to his advantage to get open.
When lining up against zone defenses, Furstenburg quickly gets himself into the open pocket between the back of the linebackers and in front of the safeties. He’s done it multiple times during training camp and even did it against the Buccaneers.
Had the Ravens not brought in Shiancoe and Clark, his chances would be better, but it’s hard to see him cracking the third tight end spot with Clark now on the roster. I see Furstenburg destined for the practice squad as Ed Dickson, Billy Bajema and Clark will probably make the team. However, the good news for Furstenburg is that he’ll likely put enough on tape to be signed by another team and added to their 53-man roster if claimed.
Is there anyone standing out as a third-string running back? I’d like to see Bobby Rainey pound the rock a little more. He has Rice-like abilities” – Larry Hughes
Bobby Rainey is exciting to watch, but I don’t think he has a spot on the roster – and it’s not due to lack of ability.
Unfortunately for Rainey, the Ravens have a traffic jam in front of him not only at running back, but at kick returner as well. While Rainey is explosive and can make plays, the chances of him seeing the field during the regular season are slim. Rainey is another player destined for the practice squad and could likely only be protected by the Ravens if he somehow comes down with a mysterious injury and placed on Injured Reserve (it happens all the time).
I’d like to see Rainey have a shot in the NFL, but it’ll likely have to come on a different team.
As far as who will win the third running back roster spot, it’s a wildcard given that Vonta Leach and Kyle Juszczyk will both make the team as fullbacks. Where a position like fullback has been do devalued in the present era of the NFL, the Ravens will have two on their 53-man roster, likely taking a spot from a running back.
Anthony Allen will probably be the third running back even though he’s not the third-best running back on the team. Allen’s contributions were tremendous in Jacoby Jones’ success as a kick returner last season. There has been discussion as to whether the Ravens will even keep three running backs, considering that Juszczyk will occupy a roster spot out of the backfield and could run if needed. The Ravens will have to decide if Allen is worth keeping around purely for special teams abilities, or if Juszczyk can give you similar production and save a roster space for another position that needs more depth.
“How is John Simon Looking?” – Chris Hudnet
John Simon is one scary dude. He is a meathead, he lives in the weight room and he’s probably the last guy I’d want to be in a fight with on the team. While Simon possesses a lot of the physical traits you’d like to see in a pass rusher, the Ravens are stacked with talent in front of him on the depth chart. Simon will only see significant playing time if the Ravens were to lose Terrell Suggs, Courtney Upshaw or Elvis Dumervil to an unfortunate injury. With that caveat, I hope he doesn’t see the field.
Simon is a project, but that’s only because of the depth on the team, not because of his ability. I’d like to hear his name called more during these final three preseason games, but regardless the Ravens think very highly of the former Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Simon will become a good pass rusher in the next few years, but I’d expect his contributions to be minimal during his rookie season.
What is the status of the “hurry up” and “no huddle” under Jim Caldwell’s system? – Mike Rice
It’s status quo. Joe Flacco is very comfortable operating it and it’s something you probably will see even more this year than years past now that offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has had a full offseason to tweak the Ravens playbook.
The use of the “sugar huddle” strongly depends on if the offense can build rhythm. If they’re flourishing, you’ll see it plenty. If they struggle, then not so much.
“I can’t wait to see Christian Thompson out on the field!! Will he be starting on defense?” – Angela Cooper
Nope. When the season begins, Thompson will be serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. When he returns, he probably won’t see the field either. The Ravens are likely going to run a rotational system between Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo and rookie first-round pick Matt Elam. In practice, Thompson hasn’t really been seen because he’s buried on the depth chart with the third-string defense.
He was already struggling ability-wise, then he made a boneheaded move and failed a drug test. It’s not looking good for him.
“How has Brandon Williams been looking?” -Matt Morris
Brandon Williams is acclimating himself to the NFL and far superior competition than what he saw at Missouri Southern State University. There certainly is a learning curve and he’s going through that at this point of training camp. During practice last week, I heard a coach telling him to finish his plays because he was ending early.
Camp is a grind for everyone but especially the offensive and defensive lines because they’re pushing and shoving each other all day long. Williams is a great asset for depth and I think he’s another player we’ll see more towards either the tail end of the season and definitely for years to come.
Fortunately for the Ravens, they can afford to let Williams sit back and learn. They are absolutely stacked along their defensive line and most of the time you’ll see Arthur Jones and Chris Canty on the outside with Haloti Ngata playing the nose tackle. Williams will see some playing time when someone needs a breather.
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