At the start of the season there were questions marks across the board regarding the Ravens’ wide receivers and tight ends. The departure of Anquan Boldin and the hip injury to Dennis Pitta left huge voids in the Ravens’ passing attack. Torrey Smith was the only proven commodity, but it was unknown whether he could step into the role of a number one receiver.
As we head into Week 7 and the matchup against the rival Steelers, what have we learned about Baltimore’s wide receivers and tight ends?
The best development is that Torrey Smith is quickly becoming a true number one. Despite getting shutdown by the Packers last week, Smith leads the team in catches and yards and is proving to be much, much more than a deep threat. Smith has been catching passes all over the field and is an offensive leader in more than just stats.
The other development of note is (dare I say it) the sudden depth the Ravens may have at Wide Receiver. Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown both provided solid showings last week coming off injuries and, to top that off, Tandon Doss had his second straight positive outing.
Mostly impacting the team so far as the primary punt returner with Jacoby Jones on the mend, Doss caught 3 passes for 58 yards against Miami and followed that up with 4 catches (tying his career high) for 99 yards (setting a career high) against Green Bay. Included in those 99 yards against the Packers was a clutch 63-yard catch and run in the 4th quarter that set up the final touchdown in the Raven’s failed comeback attempt.
Joe Flacco handpicked Doss prior to the ‘11 Draft, specifically noting to the Front Office Doss’ strong hands and that he looked “easy to throw to” while playing against Big Ten competition at Indiana. After two disappointing years in Baltimore, it would be a huge boost for the offense if Doss could continue to contribute meaningfully.
Getting Jones and Brown back ended up being an instant upgrade for the offense, especially with the Packers essentially taking Torrey Smith out of the equation. Jones, in limited action, caught 2 passes for 42 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter. The “Dancing with the Stars” alum also provided a bit of a spark in the return game taking the Ravens’ opening kickoff 35-yards and looking for a few seconds like he might break through for an even bigger return.
Marlon Brown continued to prove he might just be the real deal. Brown caught 3 passes for 71 yards against Green Bay. Included in his day was an impressive 59-yard catch and run that showed off both his speed and a vicious stiff arm on Green Bay Corner, Tramon Williams.
Adding to this glass half-full perspective on an otherwise disappointing game was Dallas Clark’s performance. While Clark has had quite an up-and-down season in his first year in Baltimore, he finally had some real impact. Clark caught 4 passes for 81 yards and topped off the day with a nifty touchdown grab in the 4th quarter that brought the Ravens within 2 points.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to say the Ravens have the best receiving corp in the league, far from it. However, what they may have is a pretty solid group with a top four that is improving from week to week. If Smith, Jones, Brown, and Doss can stay healthy and the offensive line can ever give Joe Flacco decent protection, things could get interesting for the passing game.