Ravens to try out Bennett, Hackett, two other wide receivers

Street Talk Ravens to try out Bennett, Hackett, two other wide receivers

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OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens have reacted to veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason’s abrupt retirement announcement, setting up an audition with four wide receiver job candidates for this Friday.

The Ravens have invited former St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans wide receiver Drew Bennett to the tryout as well as D.J. Hackett, according to their representatives.

The other two receivers aren’t expected to be in the big-name category.

Bennett, 30, caught just one pass during an injury-plagued season last year for the Rams and was cut this offseason two years into a $30 million contract. At 6-foot-5, 196 pounds, Bennett has the requisite size for the position and is regarded as a sure-handed, disciplined route-runner.

For his eight-year career, which included six seasons spent with the Titans, the former UCLA quarterback has registered 307 career receptions for 4,412 yards and 28 touchdowns. Bennett has visited the Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and the Atlanta Falcons this offseason and is believed to be recovered from his foot problem.

Hackett is a 28-year-old former Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks receiver who caught 13 passes for 181 yards and no touchdowns last season.

The 6-foot-2, 208-pounder declined the Ravens’ invitation to try out at a minicamp this spring because his wife was giving birth that week. He also visited the Houston Texans this offseason and participated in a Washington Redskins minicamp on a trial basis, but wasn’t signed.

"D.J is excited about the opportunity," Hackett’s agent, Kevin Robinson, said in a telephone interview. "He’s healthy, in excellent shape and is looking forward to the workout. The timing could be right this time.

"D.J.’s very athletic, has excellent hands and he has playoff experience. He’s a high-character person who should fit in well with their offense and locker room."

In five NFL seasons, Hackett has caught 118 career passes for 1,575 yards and nine touchdowns. The former University of Colorado standout was cut by the Panthers one season into a two-year, $3.5 million contract.

Among the other free agent receivers not invited to the workout, per their agents: Justin McCareins, Amani Toomer and Tab Perry.

Perry tried out for the Ravens this spring along with Jerry Porter and Kelley Washington. Washington emerged as the most impressive player at the workout and was signed to a one-year contract for the veteran minimum salary.

It’s not exactly a scintillating crop of free agents, which includes Ike Hilliard, Darrell Jackson, Koren Robinson, Robert Ferguson, Jerry Porter and Reggie Williams.

The most accomplished receiver available is former Indianapolis Colts star Marvin Harrison. Harrison is supposedly inclined toward playing again, but isn’t interested in attending the majority of a training camp with a new team. So, Harrison might not fit into the Ravens’ plans at this point.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are in the process of scheduling a meeting between coach John Harbaugh and Mason when Harbaugh’s vacation ends around the middle of this week. No firm date has been set, though.

Team officials as well as Mason’s teammates remain hopeful that the two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver might change his mind.

Mason has been grieving the murder of his close friend, former Ravens quarterback Steve McNair. The 35-year-old has also expressed frustration at the team not giving him the contract extension he has requested. Plus, Mason also has personal family reasons to consider.

Mason and his agent, Lamont Smith, have maintained a public silence since announcing that Mason intended to retire after a dozen seasons.

If Mason is out of the equation, the Ravens would be considered thin on experience and production at wide receiver with Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Washington and Marcus Smith.

Those four receivers combined for 55 catches for 878 yards and four touchdowns last season while Mason led the Ravens with 80 receptions for 1,037 yards and five touchdowns.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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