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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens looked to fill the void left behind by the injured Jacoby Jones in the return game by inking running back Shaun Draughn and placing rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette on injured reserve Wednesday.
Most recently of the Kansas City Chiefs, Draughn appeared in all 16 games last season and returned 23 kicks for 537 yards, an average of 23.3 yards per return. He will also become the Ravens’ No. 3 running back behind starter Ray Rice and backup Bernard Pierce after he rushed for 233 yards and two touchdowns with the Chiefs a year ago, but it’s unlikely that he’ll see many chances as an offensive player.
“They told me I’m a special teams guy,” Draughn said. “It’s basically the same role I had last year in Kansas City, where I came in on third down, and just be ready when I’m called.”
Mellette was said to have a knee injury in the Ravens’ official announcement after he was inactive for the season-opening game. Coach John Harbaugh indicate earlier in the week that the seventh-round rookie from Elon was practicing well and would be a possibility to be active in future contests.
With Mellette going to season-ending IR, the Ravens have now seen the only wide receiver they’ve drafted in each of the last two years (Tommy Streeter in 2012) spend the bulk of their rookie year with that designation. Harbaugh made no mention of Mellette dealing with a knee injury when he was asked about him being inactive for Week 1, which is a strong indication of the team potentially stashing away a rookie for the future as many organizations have done in the past with first-year players needing further development.
“He’s playing well,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “There’s nothing that he’s doing that wouldn’t make him a possibility to be active. We only had four receivers up [against the Broncos].”
Jones sprained the MCL in his right knee in the season opener against Denver when rookie safety Brynden Trawick accidentally collided with him on a punt return. Wide receiver Tandon Doss was re-signed earlier this week to provide depth on punt returns while Draughn will focus on kickoff duties.
After Jones was injured against the Broncos, cornerback Lardarius Webb handled punts and Pierce returned kickoffs, but the Ravens would prefer not to use those two as primary options in the return game. This created an ideal opportunity for Draughn to join the 53-man roster.
“He’s been a good special-teams player, a good kickoff returner, and a good running back,” Harbaugh said. “He played against us last year in Kansas and played very well. He’s a good young player and we feel very fortunate to have him.”
In the Ravens’ Week 5 9-6 win over the Chiefs last season, Draughn ran 12 times for 40 yards. He was released in August by Kansas City after carrying 13 times for 42 yards in three preseason games.
An undrafted free agent out of North Carolina who was originally signed by the Washington Redskins in 2011, Draughn was wearing No. 38 for the Ravens during Wednesday’s practice.