FAN QUESTIONS: You Asked, We Answered

Baltimore Ravens v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

“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.

 

For more Ravens news and information, follow me on Twitter @RavenManiac.

 

This entry was posted in Blog View, Camp Notes, Featured by Kris Jones. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kris Jones

Kris Jones
Kris - or "Goob" as he's widely known - has turned an obsession into a career. As a media member by day and super fan by night, he reports from the Under Armour Performance Center twice per week and brings Ravens news from a fan's perspective. His popular YouTube series...more

28 Raves on “FAN QUESTIONS: You Asked, We Answered

  1. pg radar on said:

    “could care less” should be “couldn’t care less”. The best way to write this sentence is “The coaches don’t care that Williams went to MD”.

  2. John on said:

    “The times you see Williams on TV during the regular season making plays, they’re for special teams, not as a wideout.”

    Not true. He had a couple of huge catches against Pitt his rookie year.

    “In two seasons, Williams has only caught two passes. Last year, he was shut out completely.”
    He has 4 catches, actually. Last year he battled injuries.

  3. Raveon on said:

    pg radar–REALLY? you took the time to correct a writer’s comment in a public forum? Did this www site make the decision to not give you a job? If the answer is yes, they made the right decision based on your horrific social acumen.

  4. Robert Fuse on said:

    Even if LaQuan dropped balls before, in all fairness, Torrey Smith dropped a lot of balls before improving. People do get better and LaQuan seems to be a LOT better. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunity to gain chemistry with Joe.

  5. Fred on said:

    pg radar is right …and thumbs up for saying it. this is kind of a pet peeve, really. The term “could care less” is routinely mis-used every day. Think about the meaning and context for a second. “Couldn’t care less” is much more accurate. After all, if a coach COULD care less, that must mean they do presently care, and the context of the article is that they don’t presently care.

    • Frank A on said:

      what are you and PG , some kind of ENGLISH TEACHERS? WHO THE F%^k CARES? we all understood what he meant so stop trying to me a smart ass.
      Let the kid do his job.

      people like you 2 make me lose faith in humanity day by day. WHAT A BUNCH OF MORONS

      • Ed in Vegas on said:

        Seriously? I understand it’s just a football article, but if you write public facing articles for a living, you should do them correctly. Saying “We all understood what he meant” shouldn’t be the standard we hold journalists to, and I’m sure that’s what Kris considers himself.

        Sorry if you’re offended by that.

        • Kris JonesKris Jones on said:

          It’s a valid point. I’ve admitted multiple times that I have football smarts but not grammar smarts. Our really smart guy is our editor and he’s jet-lagged at the moment from an all week Orioles adventure on the West Coast.

          He’ll typically catch this stuff.

    • John on said:

      Hats off to the moderators of this site for allowing people to post their opinions – regardless of how petty and childish they are.

      Seriously @Fred & @Pg Radar – did it really affect the quality of the article? Or are you just interested in saying something that may make you appear intelligent?

      Rave on!

  6. Big C on said:

    Yeah, those were pretty big catches in that Pittsburgh game. And he dropped 1 pass in that pre-season game against Detroit. They haven’t been fair to him, but this is pro football not pee wee, it’s never going to be fair. Is it fair to say based off performances in games and practices alone that if Doss were the undrafted player and Williams was drafted that Doss wouldn’t be here? I think that’s a yes. And if that’s a yes then it’s all you need to hear. It’s a lot harder to make a team a an undrafted guy on offense, period. Especially at WR where there a lot of moving parts that need to work out to make plays. If he were a safety or an LB he could just dominate the man in front of him and make plays. It’s funny how 1 drop gets you out of the consideration but the Ravens drop a lot of passes anyway. People cry about Boldin leaving but remember that drop against Pittsburgh? Drops happen, it’s what you do after that shows what you’re all about. What did Boldin do after that drop? Exactly… #Freelaquan

    • Robert Fuse on said:

      Hah! I like that hashtag. #Freelaquan

      But in all seriousness, LaQuan has done nothing but make plays. My only concern is that he doesn’t get injured again. He is too talented not to be utilized. There is a tone of footage on youtube of him just making impossible highlight reel catches. People say we need someone to make contested catches like Anquan. I honestly believe it’s LQ.

  7. Ed in Vegas on said:

    Agreed, it’s a good article, but “could care less” is a pet peeve here too. :P

    Also, Raveon – “you took the time to correct a writer’s comment in a public forum?”

    You took the time to correct a comment from a user on a public forum?

    Really?

    Also I’d liek to ask the author – For people like Furstenburg I keep hearing how he’s doing well, how he does this and that well – What I want to know is what he’s doing wrong (or not as well as the others) that makes him expendable? It can’t just be experience, because that would make all the rooks expendable..

    • Kris JonesKris Jones on said:

      I guess the easiest way to put it is that Furstenburg hasn’t done much to really stand out. For an UDFA to make the team, they have to do something to catch the eye of the coaching staff and at least from what we’ve seen on the sidelines, he’s been an average player most of the time.

      Let’s put it like this, if Pitta was healthy, he wouldn’t even sniff the 53-man roster.

      Coaches see more with these guys than any person with a note pad standing on the sidelines. There was a reason the Ravens coaches felt they needed to bring in two veteran tight ends. The actual answer, I have no idea. You’d have to ask John Harbaugh and he’d likely not even tell his wife.

      • Ed in Vegas on said:

        Thanks Kris, good to know.

        I guess a lot of articles I see (the post was in no way targetting you or your article in particular) just focus on the positives and leave fans kind of wondering “So…. why are they not moving up the depth chart?” since we don’t hear much bad about them – as far as the UDFA’s go, anyways.

      • spy on said:

        If Furstenburg doesn’t make this squad it is simply wrong,,,,he has the best hands of all the TE’s except Pitta , better keep him,,,,,,,,,,,

  8. John on said:

    @Goob – got a question for you!

    The title of the facebook post this week was “Ask Training Camp Questions”, and this one is unrelated.

    Is there any truth to the theory that Ray Lewis retired because he was “politely told” that he would no longer be “right player, right price” at the end of the year? And retiring allowed him to go out on his own terms?

    Ultimately, it worked out in his favor, but it does make you wonder if he was “asked” to retire…

    Thoughts?

    • Kris JonesKris Jones on said:

      John,

      The situation you stated is something that has ran across many people’s minds in regards to Lewis’ departure. As if he was ever “politely told” that he wasn’t going to be around at the end of the season, who knows? He’ll never tell you that and he’d never say anything to embarrass himself. Ray is far too prideful of a guy.

      I think Ray ate a bit of humble pie last year realizing that Father Time was catching up to him and the game was passing him by. Ray is a competitor but once again, he doesn’t want to embarrass himself.

      If I was a betting man, I think Ray had a little bit of convincing to help make his decision, but that’s something that likely won’t ever be told. Just think, Ozzie Newsome is a God in Baltimore. How would fans react if he said that he told Ray Lewis that he wouldn’t be welcomed back to the Ravens?

      In this instance, the goals for all parties were accomplished and it was done in a way that was PR friendly as well.

  9. slabyarddog on said:

    i have been a pulling for laquan since his rookie season imho he was the most impressive receiver in camp that year i don,t remember him being targeted 6 times in any game preseason or regular i would like to see him get a chance to earn more playing time or fail

  10. RichieG on said:

    Hey Kris,
    Can’t believe Arthur Brown’s name did not come up…is he as good as hoped and advertised/is he having trouble shedding blocks re smaller stature/etcetcetc? I too have little faith in T Doss – is he in danger; is Mellette (sp) flashing enough – thought his TD catch was a nice one?
    Since this has also developed into a bit of a grammatical exercise, MY pet peeve is when one says “I have 2 words for you” and then inserts a NAME (NAMES are not words – they are NAMES) as the answer, ie: How did the Ravens win the SB – in 2 words, “Joe Flacco”. Not the best example but I’m sure you know whereof I speak…pass it on to your fellow bloggers and broadcasters.
    RichieG

  11. ravensean509@gmail.com on said:

    As George Carlin said “we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway”. It is funny that we use phrases that make little sense but are accepted because we share a common understanding of the meaning. Not really any need to point it out because of this fact………………………….

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