Tag Archive | "tandon doss"

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Chapter 17: The Last Ride of 52

Posted on 02 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

Your lowest moment is always when you feel your greatest pain. When I tore my triceps, and the doctor looked at me and she told me that, you know, I was out for the year. And I said, ‘Doc, are you sure?’ I said, ‘Nah. Doc – there’s no way I’m [going] to be out for the year with just a torn triceps. I’ve been through way worse.’ And she was like, ‘Ray, you know, nobody’s ever come back from this.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know, nobody’s ever been Ray Lewis, either.’ ”

– Ray Lewis (January 2013)

 

 

 

AFTER ALL THAT THE RAVENS had been through in their rocky December – three losses in a row, the firing of Cam Cameron, the preseason-style game in Cincinnati to end 2012 – the road to a Super Bowl was still very much alive in January. And there’s nothing to stir the passions of Baltimore football fans like seeing the stolen blue horseshoe and the five-letter word that’s associated with evil in the land of pleasant living: I-R-S-A-Y. The Indianapolis Colts were coming to Baltimore again, a visit that still elicits plenty of emotion from the over-40 crowd.

And this time it wasn’t the bravado and no huddle mastery of Peyton Manning that would confront the Ravens. Peyton was staying warm in Denver, waiting to see if the Ravens would be journeying to the Mile High City next week. This time, the Colts had a different hotshot quarterback in Andrew Luck. The Ravens could never solve Manning – and still couldn’t earlier in December – but this time it would be a different look and a different team coming from Indy. In 2011, a gimpy version of the Colts on the last legs of the Dungy era and the Jim Caldwell head coaching run, were shellacked 24-10 by the Ravens in Baltimore as quarterback Dan Orlovsky ran for his life amidst a purple swarm all afternoon. Orlovsky wouldn’t be running the show this time.

This time, Caldwell would be running the Ravens offense and the guy who was running the Baltimore defense in 2001 would be the head coach of the Colts. There were plenty of emotions with the return of Chuck Pagano to Baltimore and the quarterback prodigy of John Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, who groomed Luck at Stanford as head coach of the Cardinal, before Indianapolis and owner Jim Irsay made him the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in April 2012 after jettisoning Manning, who wound up in Denver.

Pagano had successfully battled leukemia over the previous three months, and the #Chuckstrong campaign in social media was as solid as the Colts had been on the field in his absence. During his absence, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians stabilized a youthful team around Luck. Indianapolis was the surprise team in the AFC with an 11-5 record, including 9-2 down the stretch. They had played a last-place schedule all year, but had been impressive throughout the year and brought a wave of emotion with them from the friendly heart of the Midwest as Pagano’s health and strength was a rallying point for them all season.

Pagano had believed it a cruel, strange twist of fate that he even got the Colts head coaching job the previous January. As the Ravens went down the field on the final Lee Evans-Billy Cundiff drive in Foxborough, Pagano was thinking that he was finally going to the Super Bowl.

“If we win that AFC Championship Game that would’ve put me two weeks further out and no coach can have any discussion about a job,” Pagano said. “I would venture to say that Indy would’ve had to get their guy in place and they had already interviewed with a bunch of guys. I don’t think that it would’ve happened for me with the Colts. I know there were more qualified candidates than me, guys they had talked to in the process.”

Instead, the Ravens suffered the agonizing defeat and Pagano got the Indy job the next day. “It’s crazy how fate and destiny works,” he said. “I thought I’d be going to Indy that week. I just had no idea it’d be to be coaching the Colts. I thought I’d be coaching the Ravens defense in the Super Bowl.”

Now, a cancer survivor in remission with thin strands of gray hair returning to his previously bald head, Pagano was back in Baltimore on the sidelines as the head coach of an NFL playoff team almost 12 months later. He was coming back to Baltimore in an attempt to end

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Former fourth-round pick Doss signs deal with Jacksonville

Posted on 18 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Just over a week after the Ravens decided not to tender him a contract as a restricted free agent, wide receiver Tandon Doss has found a new home.

The 2011 fourth-round pick agreed to a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday morning, officially ending his disappointing three-year run in Baltimore. The Ravens had initially left the door open for Doss to return on a contract at a cheaper rate than the original-round tender of $1.43 million for a restricted free agent.

Originally cut at the end of the preseason last year, Doss was re-signed following the season-opening knee injury suffered by Jacoby Jones and enjoyed the best year of his career. He caught 19 passes for 305 yards and averaged 15.6 yards per punt return, returning one 82 yards for a touchdown against the Houston Texans in Week 3.

“It was a great learning experience,” Doss said to the Jaguars’ official website about his time with the Ravens. “You learn from the best, the guys who have done it. You take what they do and apply it to your game.”

A two-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection out of Indiana, Doss was originally viewed as the eventual successor to veteran Anquan Boldin at slot receiver, but underwhelming speed and inconsistent hands limited his opportunities in the Baltimore offense.

 

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Ravens reportedly won’t tender restricted free agent receiver Doss

Posted on 10 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Needing to decide whether to retain restricted free agents by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the Ravens apparently won’t be tendering a contract to wide receiver Tandon Doss.

A day after reaching a two-year agreement with linebacker Albert McClellan — who was also scheduled to be a restricted free agent — the Ravens will not offer the original-round tender of $1.43 million to Doss, according to The Sun. Baltimore is leaving the door open to retain Doss on a similar offer to the one given to McClellan, which would carry a lower cap figure for the 2014 season.

He would officially become a free agent on Tuesday afternoon if the Ravens do not offer him the first-round, second-round, or original-round tender amounts or sign him to a contract extension.

Doss had the best season of his career in 2013 as he caught 19 passes for 305 yards and averaged 15.6 yards per punt return filling in for the injured Jacoby Jones in the first half of the season. The 2011 fourth-round pick returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown against the Houston Texans in Week 3.

Though he’s never lived up to expectations, Doss was re-signed after being cut at the end of the 2013 preseason and finally carved out a role as a punt returner and as a reserve receiver. With Jones’ future with the Ravens uncertain, Doss could provide some return depth as well as another option on the depth chart at wide receiver.

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Ravens reportedly reach two-year agreement with linebacker McClellan

Posted on 09 March 2014 by Luke Jones

With the start of free agency falling at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the Ravens took care of one of their two restricted free agents Sunday by coming to an agreement with linebacker Albert McClellan.

The fourth-year linebacker agreed to a two-year deal in lieu of receiving a restricted tender, according to The Sun. McClellan was primarily a special-teams player in 2013, appearing in 15 games and making 12 tackles, but has the ability to play all four positions in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense.

The Ravens could have elected to offer McClellan the low tender worth $1.431 million, which would have given them the right to match any offer sheet had another team tried to sign him. However, a two-year contract will likely bring a smaller cap figure for 2014 and keep a solid depth player under control for an additional season if he remains in Baltimore’s plans.

McClellan’s best season came in 2012 when he started 11 games and collected 49 tackles and a sack.

An undrafted free agent out of Marshall in 2010, McClellan spent his first season on the Ravens’ practice squad before eventually cracking the 53-man roster in 2011.

 

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Ravens part ways with disappointing 2012 fourth-round pick Thompson

Posted on 01 October 2013 by Luke Jones

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In a move not very surprising after a very quiet preseason, the Ravens have parted ways with second-year safety Christian Thompson after the conclusion of his four-game suspension to begin the 2013 season.

The 2012 fourth-round pick has been waived by general manager Ozzie Newsome despite the Ravens reportedly being granted a roster exemption for him through Week 5. Thompson appeared in seven games as a rookie and was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, complicating his standing within the organization.

Thompson made little impact during the preseason as he worked mostly with the third-team defense while other young safeties such as Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick, and Omar Brown leapfrogged him on the depth chart. With the addition of former Bengals safety Jeromy Miles last week, the Ravens now have five safeties on their 53-man roster and two — Trawick and Brown — on their practice squad.

The Ravens would have the option of signing Thompson to their practice squad should he clear waivers, but that doesn’t appear likely considering how much depth they already have at the position and how little he showed in his brief time in Baltimore.

Thompson became the second recent fourth-round pick to be waived by the Ravens after 2011 fourth-round selection Tandon Doss was let go at the end of August. However, the Ravens have since re-signed Doss, who is now serving as a punt returner and reserve wide receiver.

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Ravens’ depth, versatility paying off at outside linebacker

Posted on 17 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Though the Ravens’ 1-1 start has been anything but seamless, the hype surrounding the pass-rushing combination of Terrell Suggs and free-agent acquisition Elvis Dumervil has been justified for the Baltimore defense.

Entering the 2013 season with eight Pro Bowl selections and 148 quarterback sacks between them, Suggs and Dumervil have collected a combined four sacks and 10 quarterback hits in their first two weeks together. Considering the money and resources invested by general manager Ozzie Newsome at the outside linebacker position, you expect that kind of production, but another reason to feel optimistic about Suggs, who will turn 31 next month, and the 29-year-old Dumervil being productive over the entire 16-game regular season is the depth and versatility behind them in the Baltimore defense.

With younger players such as Courtney Upshaw and Pernell McPhee spelling the veterans in certain situations, it decreases their total number of opportunities to rack up sacks and pressures but provides an ability to maximize their production when they are on the field. Both Suggs and Dumervil have welcomed younger players receiving opportunities defensively.

“That’s a good thing. You want guys getting after it,” Suggs said following Sunday’s win. “Everybody’s fighting for it.”

With Cleveland expected to establish the running game as opposed to Denver’s wide-open passing attack from Week 1, it was no surprise to see Upshaw start the game at the strong-side linebacker position with Dumervil on the sideline. Ideally, Dumervil is better suited for Suggs’ rush linebacker position than the Sam linebacker spot responsible for setting the edge and focusing more on stopping the run.

Upshaw played 42 of the Ravens’ 63 defensive snaps against the Browns while Dumervil was on the field for 39 plays. This didn’t prevent Dumervil from being a major thorn in the side of Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden as he collected a sack, three quarterback hits, and two hurries in 28 pass-rush situations, according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Upshaw was a major part of a run defense that limited the Browns to just 3.3 yards per carry and 65 yards on the ground.

“Upshaw is a hell of a player, and he’s only [in] year two, so the sky is the limit for him,” Dumervil said prior to the start of the season. “I think the staff does a great job of putting guys where it’s suited best for them, and as a player, you have to be respectful towards what is trying to be accomplished.”

Dumervil wasn’t the only standout linebacker to receive some rest over the course of the game as Suggs took 49 defensive snaps and third-year pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee participated in 20, often spelling Suggs at his rush linebacker spot. McPhee was converted to outside linebacker in the offseason and while he lacks the skill set of Suggs against the run and in pass coverage, the position change allowed him to shed some weight to take some pressure off his problematic knees and to help keep the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year fresh over the course of games when possible.

Of course, there will be occasions against tougher competition in which the Ravens will lean more heavily on Suggs and Dumervil, but the ability for defensive coordinator Dean Pees to lighten the workload of his veteran outside linebackers will keep them more productive down the stretch when the Ravens will need them at their best.

Dead end with tight ends

The tight end position has been a hot topic for discussion ever since starter Dennis Pitta went down with a serious hip injury in the first week of training camp, and there are no indications that the problem is being fixed until his potential return late this season.

The Ravens showed their level of concern by working out free-agent tight ends Jake Ballard and Matt Mulligan after the season opener, but it’s difficult to expect any addition off the street to make a significant impact. Ed Dickson has struggled mightily to catch the football while 34-year-old Dallas Clark has looked slow running routes and dropped a sure touchdown right before halftime in the Week 1 loss at Denver.

“Those guys need to be a big part of what we are doing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They are fully capable of making catches. Ed should be a big-play guy up the seam, over routes, and all those kinds of things. We need to get Ed going.”

On paper and in practices, Dickson looks like the prototypical tight end with size, good speed, and strong blocking ability, but trying to cure the mental issue of having a case of the drops isn’t easy. After Dickson dropped a Joe Flacco pass that would have been a nice gain over the middle of the field on the first play of the game on Sunday, the quarterback didn’t target him again.

It spoke volumes for both Dickson and Clark that No. 3 tight end Billy Bajema — known mostly for his blocking — turned in the best performance of the day by making an 18-yard reception. Whether we see more of him, versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk, or the eventual promotion of Matt Furstenburg from the practice squad, the Ravens need to see improvement from the tight end spot considering the similar questions facing the wide receiver position.

In two games this season, Ravens tight ends have combined for 10 catches and 126 yards. In comparison, New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham had eight catches for 156 yards and a touchdown in the first half of the Saints’ win against Tampa Bay on Sunday.

That type of production from their tight ends in two games just simply isn’t enough in the modern NFL.

Running game concerns

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Ravens bring back Doss to aid concerns at receiver, returner

Posted on 09 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The wide receiver and tight end carousel continues for the Ravens as they are bringing back wide receiver Tandon Doss.

The 2011 fourth-round pick will rejoin the organization that drafted him after being waived on Aug. 31. Entering the summer with significant expectations to help fill the void created by the offseason trade of Anquan Boldin, Doss had a disappointing preseason and was left off the Ravens’ 53-man roster.

“It helps to have a guy that’s been here when you can bring someone like Tandon who knows the offense and is ready to plug right in and play for us,” coach John Harbaugh said. “There’s no teaching we have to do. he knows what to do. It’s a big plus for us.”

To make room for Doss, general manager Ozzie Newsome released veteran linebacker Robert James, who was claimed on waivers from the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 1.

The knee injury suffered by Jacoby Jones in the season-opening loss at Denver created depth concerns at wide receiver and in the return game where Doss has the ability to return punts. Jones is expected to miss at least a month with a sprained right MCL. Starting cornerback Lardarius Webb returned punts after Jones’ exit in the second quarter against the Broncos while No. 2 running back Bernard Pierce handled kickoff returns.

It’s believed that the Ravens would prefer not to use Webb in the return game since he is coming back from his second ACL surgery in four years.

“We’ll just go with the best guys we have,” Harbaugh said. “As a coach, you play with the guys you’ve got, so we’ll put the guy out there who gives us the best chance to hold onto the football and get us some yards. That’s what you have to do.”

In two seasons with the Ravens, Doss caught seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown on 20 targets. He was expected to be the team’s slot receiver as many hoped his reputation for having good hands and running crisp routes to be a poor man’s version of Boldin.

Doss caught seven passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in the preseason but was heavily criticized for misreading a pressure and running the incorrect route on a Joe Flacco pass returned for a touchdown in the third preseason game against Carolina.

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Ravens cut Doss, seven others to get roster down to 53

Posted on 31 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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The Ravens started Saturday with 63 players on their roster and wasted no time working to get down to the NFL-mandated 53 by 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Wide receiver Tandon Doss headlined a list of cuts that included tight ends Matt Furstenburg and Billy Bajema, running back Bobby Rainey, defensive lineman Cody Larsen,offensive linemen J.J. Unga and Antoine McClain, and safety Omar Brown.

A fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft, Doss was expected to play a larger role in the passing game following the offseason trade of Anquan Boldin, but the third-year wideout struggled with consistency in both practices and preseason games. His five-catch, 75-yard performance in the preseason finale against St. Louis apparently wasn’t enough to change the Ravens’ minds about his roster fate.

The decision to jettison Doss left roster space for third-year wide receiver LaQuan Williams, who has consistency issues of his own but is a more versatile special-teams player than Doss. On Friday, head coach John Harbaugh painted a positive picture for the chances of rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette to make the 53-man roster and the departure of Doss only confirmed that.

Parting ways with both Furstenburg and Bajema as well as Rainey was surprising in that it leaves the Ravens with just two healthy tight ends and two running backs on their 53-man roster, which would be unusual for most NFL rosters. However, backup fullback Kyle Juszczyk could be viewed as the third-string option at each position should the Ravens elect to stay with that roster breakdown.

Last season, third-string running back Anthony Allen had 16 carries while Bajema made zero receptions as the Ravens’ No. 3 tight end. It reflects the reality of those final spots on the 53-man roster being much more about special-teams contributions than positional depth.

After deciding to cut Brown, the Ravens kept five safeties with Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick backing up the trio of Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, and first-round pick Matt Elam. Baltimore only has four active cornerbacks on the roster at the moment, so the decision to carry five safeties eases depth concerns in the secondary since Huff has experience playing corner in the NFL. Trawick blocked a punt in the preseason opener and played well in the fourth exhibition game, but he was considered by most pundits to be trailing both Brown and Levine in the hunt for a roster spot.

With defensive backs Asa Jackson and Christian Thompson both beginning the season on the reserve-suspended list, the Ravens now have 53 active players on their roster. However, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen remains on the roster for now despite breaking his foot early in training camp. He has long been considered a candidate for injured reserve and could easily be placed there should general manager Ozzie Newsome claim another player off waivers as early as Sunday.

Further complicating the roster picture is tight end Dennis Pitta, who cannot be placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list until Tuesday. This essentially means the Ravens had to cut their roster to 52 healthy players, but it could open the door for either Bajema or Furstenburg to be re-signed if they don’t catch on elsewhere.

All but one of the Ravens’ 10 selections in the 2013 draft survived final cut-down day with only seventh-round cornerback Marc Anthony being let go. Sixth-round defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore was placed on the non-football injury list last week as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered in January.

Anthony was the organization’s first draft pick to be cut in the same year he was selected since 2009 when fifth-round tight end Davon Drew and sixth-round running back Cedric Peerman were both waived.

Here’s the official look at the 53-man roster and corresponding moves as of Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline:

QB: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
RB: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce
FB: Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
TE: Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark, *Dennis Pitta
WR: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, Marlon Brown, Deonte Thompson, Aaron Mellette, LaQuan Williams
OL: Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid, Rick Wagner, Ryan Jensen (injured)

DL: Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty, Arthur Jones, Marcus Spears, Brandon Williams, Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson
OLB: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Pernell McPhee, John Simon
ILB: Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes, Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan
CB: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown
S: Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, Matt Elam, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick

Specialists: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox

*Pitta may be placed on injured reserve-designated to return on Tuesday afternoon.
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Injured-reserve: Adrian Hamilton, D.J. Bryant
Reserve-suspended: Asa Jackson, Christian Thompson
Physically unable to perform: Jameel McClain
Non-football injury: Kapron Lewis-Moore

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Decisions looming for Ravens at underwhelming receiver position

Posted on 26 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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The Ravens are less than a week away from making final decisions for their 53-man roster with no position currently in more flux than wide receiver.

After an offseason full of discussion around a young but unproven group of wide receivers, the preseason has provided little knowledge in projecting how the Ravens plan to flourish in the passing game without 2012 key targets Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. The decision to sign 37-year-old Brandon Stokley and 34-year-old tight end Dallas Clark after the preseason opener was all you needed to know about the level of concern general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh felt after an underwhelming start to the summer for the passing game.

Just days away from the preseason finale that’s likely to feature very few starters, the Ravens have three locks to make the roster at the wide receiver position: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and Stokley. Smith remains the only option at the position with which you feel comfortable while Jones’ speed and Stokley’s ability to move the chains from the slot receiver position are specialized skills that will work well in different formations.

After that? Unknown commodities and unfulfilled promise fill out the rest of the pack.

Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown? A 2013 seventh-round pick and a rookie free agent respectively.

LaQuan Williams? A solid special-teams player but inconsistent as a wide receiver in both practices and preseason games.

Deonte Thompson? Injured since the preseason opener.

And Tandon Doss? He’s become the whipping boy of a concerned fan base after a very disappointing summer.

The discussion over who stays and who goes has heated up over the last couple weeks as fans and media alike try to predict how many receivers will make the regular-season roster.

“I’m not quite certain of what the numbers will be,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “That’s John and Ozzie — they take care of that. They look at it and determine [and] look at the entire team.”

While many fixate on a given number of receivers to make the final roster — five, six, even seven? — the Ravens look at the roster from a global view in determining which 53 players will be the best fit to win games in 2013. As unlikely as it might be, all eight receivers could make it through final cuts if Harbaugh and his staff determine they contribute enough both offensively and through special teams.

Caldwell has even suggested that strength in numbers might be the unit’s best bet while also providing more time to determine which receivers build the best rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco in the early weeks of the season. Eight receivers would certainly be a stretch, but it’s not difficult envisioning scenarios in which seven wideouts crack the 53-man roster without too much trouble.

It comes down to special-teams play, team health, and positional needs — or the lack of needs — elsewhere.

“There could be a situation where we’re using quite a few guys at the wide receiver position, which I think is a plus for us because it helps us mix up personnel packages,” Caldwell said. “We do have some versatility because we have a number of guys who can play multiple positions.”

With that in mind, it’s time to make the case for and against each of the five wide receivers projected to be on the roster bubble.

Each receiver’s career NFL regular-season numbers are noted in parentheses.

Tandon Doss (seven catches, 123 yards, 20 targets)

The case for: The Ravens typically don’t give up on their high draft picks easily and the 2011 fourth-round pick has practiced well at different points over the last three years despite a very underwhelming preseason performance of just two catches for 10 yards and a touchdown in three games this summer. He hasn’t stepped up in the manner the Ravens had hoped in filling Boldin’s shoes as the slot receiver, but the rest of the bunch hasn’t outperformed him so dramatically to make him out to be the slam-dunk cut that some critics have made him out to be over the last few days. Another factor helping Doss’ case for a roster spot is the lack of a healthy option behind Stokley as a slot receiver in the passing game with Thompson currently injured. He’s shown good hands and route-running ability in practices, which still counts for something despite magnified mistakes in preseason games.

The case against: It never speaks well for your future when two rookies appear to have leapfrogged you on the depth chart after Brown and Mellette saw playing time before Doss against Carolina in the third preseason game. His inability to recognize a blitz led to a Flacco interception against the Panthers, and the third-year wideout didn’t exactly come across as a player trying to take accountability in his explanation after the game. Doss can serve as a backup punt returner, but his ability to play special teams is very limited beyond that. Of the five players currently on the bubble at the position, he has received the greatest number of opportunities and has done very little with them, making you wonder how much patience the Ravens have left. Expectations were high for him, but he’s performed poorly in the preseason.

Marlon Brown (rookie)

The case for: The undrafted product did what no other young receiver had done all summer last Thursday when he took advantage of an opportunity to work with the starting offense by making four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. You can’t teach 6-foot-5 height, and Brown has shown the potential to be the tall red-zone target the Ravens envisioned with the selection of the recently-cut Tommy Streeter in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Brown runs solid routes and has shown consistent hands for much of the summer in both practices and games while working his way back from a torn ACL suffered last fall. His performance in a nationally-televised preseason game makes it highly unlikely that he will clear waivers to allow the Ravens to sign him to their practice squad as they may have planned a couple weeks ago.

The case against: It’s important to remember one preseason performance means very little in the big picture as the Ravens aren’t exactly sure how Brown will fit in the short-term future or whether he will pan out in the long term. Despite being a five-star recruit for the University of Georgia, he didn’t exactly live up to expectations playing in the SEC, the greatest stage college football has to offer. Brown has occasionally missed some practice time this summer while working his way back to 100 percent, so that will be something to watch in his first season in the NFL where rookies can often hit the proverbial wall late in the 16-game schedule.

Aaron Mellette (rookie)

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Concerns rising over Ravens’ lack of options in passing game

Posted on 16 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — Unless you’re heavily invested in the futures of such Ravens players as Tyrod Taylor, Aaron Mellette, and Asa Jackson, there wasn’t much to like Thursday night despite a 27-23 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Head coach John Harbaugh said it all as the first half ended with the Ravens trailing 20-7 after the offense was held to just 131 total yards, the defense had surrendered 255 yards, and the team had committed five penalties for 42 yards. The effort was sloppy, out of rhythm, and unlike anything the sixth-year coach could remember in his tenure in Baltimore — even if it was only the second preseason game of the summer.

“That first half was about as poorly as we could play,” Harbaugh said at halftime. “I can’t remember us playing worse since we came here.”

Speaking with more perspective after a 21-point fourth quarter that propelled the Ravens to a 2-0 start in the preseason, the coach acknowledged that many of the first-half mistakes were correctable and he was right. As shaky as the defensive effort was, Dean Pees’ unit has several new pieces that need to gel over these next three weeks prior to the regular-season opener. The secondary will be aided by the return of top cornerback Lardarius Webb, and most players on which the Ravens are counting have track records that create a certain comfort level.

The penalties are a concern when you recall the Ravens being plagued by them last year — ranking 31st in the NFL — but they weren’t of the variety causing you to lose too much sleep.

Of course, the area raising the most concern for the second week in a row is the stagnant performance of the offense as the Ravens couldn’t run nor throw the ball with any level of consistency in the first 30 minutes of play. The lone highlight was a 77-yard touchdown strike from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith on a crossing pattern over the middle of the field on the first play of their second offensive series.

Aside from that one play, the Ravens were held to 54 yards on 18 plays and managed just three first downs before halftime. Baltimore carried the ball 10 times for just 13 yards in the first half as the starting offensive line opened few running lanes with Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda not quite ready for game action.

Wide receivers not named Smith were held to one catch for four yards on six targets prior to Mellette’s 40-yard touchdown to open the fourth-quarter scoring.

“We kind of beat ourselves with penalties and certain miscues, and it’s tough to play from behind,” Smith said. “When you’re not playing many plays, it’s tough to recover from that, but we’ll be fine. We know what the mistakes were that we made, and you can’t make penalties, so obviously we need to correct that.”

There are only so many times you can go to the “throw a quick slant to Torrey Smith for a touchdown” trick in the playbook.

The results of Thursday night’s game are truly inconsequential as we’ll all forget the score of the game in just a few weeks, but the current state of the passing offense continues to look like one of panic. Beyond Smith, not a single receiver emerged as Jacoby Jones was held to one reception and newly-signed veteran Brandon Stokley wasn’t targeted after playing only a handful of plays in the slot.

With Ed Dickson still sidelined with a hamstring injury, current starting tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was targeted twice in the first half — one negated by a penalty — and failed to record a reception.

It was Jones again running a questionable route that contributed in part to a second Flacco interception in as many weeks.

“I threw it into a bee’s nest,” said Flacco about the second-quarter pick. “I thought Jacoby might be able to get around the Sam linebacker, so I kind of threw it off of his shoulder, but Jacoby was just getting behind there, so I threw it into too many people.”

It’s becoming apparent that the Ravens are discovering what the Houston Texans did about Jones’ limitations as a wide receiver. The Pro Bowl return specialist’s ideal role is the one he served last year as a vertical threat on the outside in three-wide sets and as a player you can use for a handful of gadget plays over the course of the year.

But Jones hasn’t been as disappointing as third-year receiver Tandon Doss, who didn’t even draw any playing time with the starting offense on Thursday as Stokley took the reps in the slot. Though not the deciding factor by any stretch, Doss was viewed as a real piece of the puzzle along with tight end Dennis Pitta this offseason to replace veteran Anquan Boldin’s production.

Instead, it’s been a quiet summer for the 2011 fourth-round pick, who has struggled to gain separation in practices and each of the first two preseason contests. Doss suffered a drop on a pass originally ruled to be a fumble in the third quarter before he did manage to make up for it with a 5-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

“That was really, really great to see,” Harbaugh said. “Consistency is important, too. You’ve got to stack good plays. We’ll have to go back and look at that and just see for every guy how that plays out. You really need to watch the tape and kind of see where the situation is to evaluate it fairly.”

Harbaugh’s correct and much of what he saw on both sides of the ball was correctable, but he’ll also find a group of wide receivers and tight ends that struggled to gain separation over the first three quarters of play. And while it’s only a preseason game for the established veterans with track records, these are the precious opportunities to find out as much as you can about the unknown commodities on your roster.

The likes of Doss, David Reed, LaQuan Williams (who followed a strong preseason opener with two drops Thursday night), and the injured Deonte Thompson haven’t looked up to the task for the most part in the two preseason games or practices, leaving the door open for Stokley and newly-signed veteran tight end Dallas Clark to receive extensive opportunities in the all-important third preseason game.

Four weeks into the summer, a long-term and potentially season-ending hip injury to Pitta and a disappointing Doss have left the plan to replace Boldin in shambles as the Ravens are now looking for any help they can get to augment the passing game.

Beyond Smith and Ray Rice out of the backfield, who can you trust as pass catchers?

Flacco has talked a good game all spring and summer about trusting his young receivers, but you wonder how much of that is the sixth-year quarterback trying to be a good teammate at this point as he can’t truly rely on anyone but Smith in the current batch of healthy receivers and tight ends.

At least there’s always Rice and the check-down to count on.

“We really don’t think about it too much besides when we’re questioned about it,” Flacco said about the perceived offensive struggles. “You guys look more at that stuff. We just go out there and play and do it with who we have out there. I think the guys are doing a great job.”

Who we have out there.

Whether he intended to or not, the quarterback said it all with that portion of his response.

And Thursday made you continue to doubt if who the Ravens have out there will be enough this year.

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