The Ravens took a beating last Thursday against the Denver Broncos and that could be an understatement. The rotten topping on top of the entire mess is that the Ravens will be losing wide receiver and return specialist Jacoby Jones for 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain. Jones was hurt when undrafted free agent safety Brynden Trawick failed to notice Jones on a punt return and ran into him, hitting each other’s knees in the process. A bad omen for an already thin wide receiving corps, so thin that the Ravens have already re-signed the much hated Tandon Doss for depth.
Last year, Jones was elected to his first Pro Bowl as a returner after he recorded 30 catches for 406 yards and one touchdown, 37 punt returns for 341 yards and a touchdown, and 38 kickoff returns for 1,167 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was invaluable on special teams and was a solid option out of the slot. He made several crucial plays for the Ravens last year including, catching the 70 yard pass from Joe Flacco to tie up the Divisional round playoff game against the Broncos and returning the second half kickoff for a touchdown against the 49ers in the Super Bowl.
Coming into the season, Jones was primed to have an even bigger year and role in the Ravens offense with Anquan Boldin being traded and Dennis Pitta going down for the season with an injury to his hip. Jones almost looked like the number two Wide Receiver before his was injured against the Broncos, lining up on the opposite side of the field of Torrey Smith, which opened up the middle of the field for the likes of Brandon Stokley, Dallas Clark, and Ed Dickson. Jones’ speed is also huge, as it plays to Flacco’s biggest strength, stretching the field and throwing the ball deep. Jones finished with a respectable 3 catches for 24 yards after one quarter of play.
Losing Jones not only hurts receiver depth, the Ravens lose one of the best kick returners in the league with no clear replacement. Lardarius Webb, the return specialist before Jones was signed, won’t be returning anything due to the injury risk. Webb is the number one corner and is coming off an ACL tear. Bernard Pierce handled some kickoffs after Jones went down, but lacks the explosiveness to be a returner and there is no depth behind him and Ray Rice at running back.
Jones’ injury isn’t a complete loss; it allowed fan-favorite undrafted free agent wide receiver Marlon Brown to line up and make to pro debut. He finished the game with four catches and 65 yards and a touchdown. Rookies Brown and Aaron Mellette should see increased time on offense with the loss of Jones, something rookie wide outs, minus Torrey Smith, never get a lot of on the Ravens. Both Brown’s and Mellette’s biggest strength is their size and ability to catch the ball in traffic, the complete opposite of Jones, but very similar to Anquan Boldin.
Jones most definitely will be missed, but the Ravens are used to the mantra, “Next man up.” It gives Brown and Mellette shots to contribute on offense, which I am very excited about. The biggest concern at the moment is the return position, with no clear person to fill the role, the rumor is that Doss will be taking most of the return duties until they find someone else. I’d never thought I’d say I miss David Reed. The one thing I think we can take away from Jones’ injury is — that we’re going to miss his dance moves.