First game does little to solve wide receiver puzzle

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In their preseason opener, the Ravens were able to produce 44 points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the backups had their time to shine, the performance of the first-team offense did little to help answer the questions surrounding the wide receiving corps.

During the first two series of the game, the starting offense failed to produce a point, and the two wide receivers expected to fill the roles behind Torrey Smith failed to produce.

Jacoby Jones & Tandon Doss

Both Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss were held without a catch, Jones was targeted twice, Doss once. Granted, both were only given a quarter to play and could have shown up at a later point had this game counted, but this offense was primarily designed with short passes, which when targeted, each player allowed catchable balls to hit the ground.

The Ravens gambled on both Jones and Doss being ready to produce when they traded away Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers. Jones and Doss are being handed a legitimate shot to win starting spots with the first-team offense, but neither has done much to keep the team from exploring other options at the position.

Deonte Thompson

Within the past week, Deonte Thompson has tried to add his name into the mix for a starting job. The former Florida Gator made the team as an undrafted free agent last year, winning the primary kick returning duties before fumbling a ball and his job opportunity against the Kansas City Chiefs five weeks into the season.

Thompson recorded one catch for five-yards and was targeted another time in which the ball hit him squarely in the numbers on the front of his jersey and fell to the ground. The night would come to a premature end for Thompson who had to leave the game with an ankle injury. There has been no update on his progress but we’re likely to find out when head coach John Harbaugh addresses the media today.

What Thompson displayed during a short time in the game is the same thing he’s shown in practice. He’ll find ways to get open, but he’s a body catcher, which often leads to increased drops on passes thrown straight at him. Another struggle for Thompson is the fact that his game closely mirrors that of Smith and Jones, who primarily rely on their speed to create separation against opposing defensive backs.

Torrey Smith’s Development

Smith is quickly shaping into a legitimate top-tier receiving threat in this league. Smith has done his best to shed the label of just being a burner, as he’s becoming a crisp route runner and works daily on improving his hands prior to practice with the JUGS machine.

Smith has taken that next step to becoming a finesse receiver in the league. However, Smith’s primary problem is that unless someone steps up as a legitimate receiving threat alongside of him, he’ll be bracketed by opposing defenses unconcerned with the threat (or lack thereof) opposite Smith.

Other guys are stepping up

Fortunately, the Ravens still have three preseason games to work their kinks out at the wide receiver position and some younger stars did show promise against the Buccaneers.  LaQuan Williams had the game of his life, primarily on special teams but hauled in two catches for 32-yards and a touchdown. Williams could figure into the Ravens slot receiver battle and his efforts on Thursday will likely have him seeing more time with the first team next Thursday as the Ravens play the Atlanta Falcons.

Marlon Brown (UDFA/Georgia) also had a good night, receiving plenty of playing time, catching two passes for 31 yards (Longest: 19 yards). Seventh-round pick Aaron Mellette (Elon) made the most of his opportunity, catching his only pass for a 21-yard touchdown to essentially seal the game for the Ravens.

While it’s exciting to see young players step up, they’re also going against inferior competition. The Ravens need to see what Williams, Brown and possibly Mellette can do against starting defenses throughout the league. After making the impact they did in the first preseason game, the aforementioned players have placed themselves in position to earn more playing time throughout the preseason against superior competition.

It’s exciting to see players like Williams, Brown and Mellette seize the opportunity they’ve been given during the first preseason game. Unless one of them has a breakout preseason or Jones and Doss show something different than what they have already,  I would figure Ozzie & Co. to be watching rosters of other teams and making a move within the next few weeks.

Oh, the joys of the preseason.

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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

13 Raves on “First game does little to solve wide receiver puzzle

  1. spy on said:

    Absolutely right on with your comments,,,,,,,,,,,I could not have stated them any better than you did,,,,,,,,,,It will be fun reading your comments during the season,,,,,,,,,,,pre-season is usually pre-season for all of us but it looks like you are primed and ready to roll,,,,,,,,,,stating Ozzie gambled in this town is a gamble all by itself , many fans will not admit Ozzie makes mistakes so be carefull………

  2. cbay52 on said:

    I’m putting Flacco’s INT squarley on Jones shoulders. He seemed like he gave up on the play and made a half-hearted swat to defend the pass that was no where near being a deflection.

    Hey it’s preseason right? No need to go full speed. What you want me to catch the ball and risk getting hurt? Don’t you know I’m already a lock for the #2 WR job?. Check the socks, I Got Game and these gold cleats are ballin’.

    Ok, sorry I got carried away. He really did impress me last year, but Jones needs to start producing. Shake things up and give LaQuan some reps with the starters. Is he just going to coast until week one? He sure looked apathetic in Tampa.

  3. herb on said:

    SENDER: COMMON SENSE

    TO: RAVENS FANS

    SUBJECT: MOST OF RAVENS RECEIVING CORE IS TERRLBLE !!!

    Ok, I watched the Ravens first team against the Bucs and was astounded on the lack of separation from most of the receiving core. Besides maybe Torrey Smith and Ray Rice ( running back) the rest of the receivers were absolutely horrible. I know it’s the first pre-season game and all of that ,but you would expect your first team to put kind of a beat down on the Bucs first team which didn’t happened. It was shocking . In fact the reverse happened. The core to the Bucs beat down on Baltimore’s first team and was caused by a lack of energy, route running, drop passes ,and lack of talent in the Ravens receivers . This was the super bowl chaps huh??? Well, looked the super bowl chumps to me. Then I hear Ravens fans cheering the score and saying how happy there are with that great Ravens win over the Bucs. Are you kidding me!!!!!! That Ravens first team was very bad lol The Baltimore sports community and fans better take of those purple colored glasses, because you’re going to be in for a rude awaking come Sept! Mr Boldin is saying “ miss me yet???”

    JO

  4. Josh on said:

    Here’s hoping LaQuan, Marlon, and Mellette receive more playing time versus Atlanta. I say sit Torrey and let the younger guys play more. Torrey is ready.

  5. Navin on said:

    I think as far as Joe is comfortable & confident with current group of receivers, I doubt Ozzie will bring in a veteran WR. Lets wait see which receiver steps up in next couple of games.

    Hope Laquan gets equal oppurtunity to compete for the 2nd & 3rd WR. He is BETTER than Jacoby, Doss & Thompson.

  6. Mac in Va on said:

    Hi, Goob,

    Just watched the replay of the game on NFL-HD this morning and man you were spot on. If they aren’t already, all the guys who want the #2 spot should follow Smith over to the Jugs machine ASAP.

    I’m not going to stress over who steps up though. Part of the fun of pre season football is seeing who actually will…or won’t get it done. There’s a golden opportunity for someone to become the next star (I’m pulling for Doss but he’s off to a slow start) and we’ve got three more games to see who that might be.

  7. Robert Fuse on said:

    I wasn’t really THAT impressed with Marlon Brown. He did drop a couple balls in that game before getting into stride. If he’s more consistent in the next game, then maybe I’ll believe in him more. I’m really high on LaQuan right now. He’s always consistently made great acrobatic, contested catches. I hope he’s healthy this year.

  8. Big C on said:

    OH hells no… all of y’all on here were riding Doss’ nuts and Thompson’s nuts like these guys are real players. They aren’t… Deonte did DIDLEY SQUAT in 4 years at Florida. Doss is a flake. Been told y’all. LaQuan is the only guy who’s shown that he can make plays. ..

    • spy on said:

      That is why they brought in some old guys , the young guys were not stepping up,,,,,,,,,,,,,,it will be even more difficult for the young guns to step up now as playing time will be diminished,,,,,,,,,,,,

  9. Big Perm on said:

    Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette and Rashaad Carter all have great potential. Stop whining about the WR corp and trust that the coaches know a little more than you do. Because believe me, they do!

    • spy on said:

      Another personal attack,,,,,,,,,we realize the coaches know more than us , but it used to be OK to voice your opinion in this country,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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