Ravens beat writer Jeff Zrebiec:
I’ve been saying for months that Marlon Brown is a lock for one of the wide receiver spots in what has been the most-scrutinized position competition of training camp. But now, I’m not so sure.
Brown, to no fault of his own, missed most of the first couple of weeks of training camp with back and hamstring injuries. But since his return, he hasn’t looked right.
He isn’t getting a ton of reps and he’s been extremely tentative, failing to get much separation on defensive backs. I’m sure the injuries have a lot to do with it, but Brown may be playing himself onto the roster bubble, especially if Michael Campanaro stays healthy and Jeremy Butler and Darren Waller have good preseasons.
Two weeks ago, I would have predicted with some confidence that the Ravens’ regular-season roster would include seven receivers: Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Brown, Campanaro, Breshad Perriman, Waller and Jeremy Butler. Now, I’m not so sure.
Campanaro is making a push to be the team's slot receiver, and if Perriman returns and takes over as the WR2, then Brown will be vying with Aiken for snaps as the team's WR4. If Perriman remains sidelined, then Aiken/Brown could be battling for a starting job.
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 11:05am
WR Michael Campanaro's electric 45-yard touchdown in the Baltimore Ravens' preseason opener was the result of great route-running, determination after the catch and hard work to stay healthy this summer.
Campanaro is standing out in the Ravens' wide receiver competition because of his ability to make big plays and stay on the field. It shouldn't go unnoticed that Campanaro is the only returning receiver from last year's team to participate in every training camp practice this year.
Steve Smith received a veteran day off. Kamar Aiken sat out a day because of fatigue. Marlon Brown missed time with back and hamstring injuries. Plus, first-round pick Breshad Perriman injured his knee on the first day of camp and hasn't returned.
Suiting up every day is as much of a statement for Campanaro as his first touchdown in Baltimore.
"It feels great just being healthy, out there playing," Campanaro said. "I’m not even thinking about it. Just out there playing free.”
Durability was one of the reasons why he lasted until the seventh round in 2014. Injuries curtailed his impact as a rookie. There's no one questioning his talent. Campanaro is a savvy pass catcher with great hands. In limited action last year, he was Joe Flacco's surest target, catching a team-best 84.6 percent of the the passes thrown his direction in the regular season and playoffs.
While it seems like yesterday that a young Joe Flacco was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens, he’s already heading into his eighth season as an NFL quarterback. He’s a seasoned, mature veteran and the leader of one of the winningest pro football franchises over the last decade. Flacco is the Super Bowl XLVII MVP and has the most playoff wins of any NFL quarterback since he entered the league in 2008. Last season, he had his best statistical outing yet, putting up 3,986 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. Nobody wants to see those numbers regress even if Flacco has his fourth coordinator in four years. In fact, the hope is that he gets even better and breaks the 4,000-yard milestone. When asked about what he’ll do to better his game in 2015, Flacco didn’t say a single thing about stats, wins or any accolades, such as getting a Pro Bowl nod for the first time. Instead, he named three specific goals: 1) Stay healthy 2) Maintain strong communication with his OC Marc Trestman 3) Work on his footwork
Perhaps the most important fantasy-related item to take away here is Flacco building his relationship with Trestman. The story said Flacco isn’t worried about the offense under Trestman due to its similarity to the system Gary Kubiak implemented last season. Flacco is ranked 16th among our QBs this year. He lost his deep threat in Torrey Smith but the team drafted Breshad Perriman, who is expected to start alongside Steve L Smith, and fill the deep threat void. We project Flacco for 4,259 yards, which would put him tenth. He'll continue to have QB2 value and probably could start for your fantasy team in certain matchups.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 10:53am
Coach John Harbaugh is pushing Brown for a breakout season.
"I have high hopes for him," Harbaugh said recently, via the Ravens' official website. "I really want to see him break out. ... It's time for him to step up and become what he's capable of doing. He's very determined to do that."
Harbaugh continues to talk up Brown this offseason. When training camp opens, Brown will be battling Aiken and Perriman for a starting job. The story went on to say Brown didn't make enough plays in 2014. After recording seven touchdowns as an undrafted rookie in 2013, he was kept out of the end zone entirely last season. In fact, the 6-foot-5 redzone threat wasn't targeted once inside the 20-yard line.
Monday, May 11, 2015, 9:32am
WR DeAndre Carter is only 5 feet 8 and 185 pounds, but he was one of the quickest and most active players on the field in the portion of Ravens’ mincamp open to reporters on Saturday.
Carter was a coveted college free agent, but he looks up to Steve Smith, so signing with the Ravens made sense. He also had an extremely prolific college career, albeit against lesser competition. Carter caught 99 passes for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and has return skills that could come into play with the Ravens looking to replace Jacoby Jones.
The article goes on to say that the Ravens' receiving lineup will be tough to crack, but the team is generally hurting for playmakers at the position. If Carter displays a skill set that the team needs, then he'll make the cut.
Friday, April 10, 2015, 4:32pm
Stature stands in the way of Cooks being perceived as a No. 1-type wide receiver in the NFL. Not many true No. 1 wideouts are 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds.
Yet Cooks needs to be that primary pass catcher with the Saints losing Kenny Stills in a trade to Miami and Marques Colston's best days behind him. Cooks only turns 22 in September and missed the last six games last season with a hand injury. Cooks possesses the tools to become the guy.
As the author points out, those are lofty expectations for Cooks. But we've all seen Steve Smith become a Pro Bowler as a No. 1 wide receiver for Carolina for several seasons. Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown is the latest example leading the NFL in catches and yards last season, the story adds. Cooks said this offseason how he's striving to emulate Brown. With no more Stills and Jimmy Graham, the Saints hope and need Cooks to quickly develop into their top option. This seems to be good news for his fantasy value heading into 2015.
GM Dave Gettleman said he wanted to sit down with DeAngelo Williams before saying anything publicly about the status of the franchise’s all-time rushing leader. Last year, Gettleman was widely criticized for his noncommittal comments about Steve Smith’s future with the team before talking to the Panthers’ popular, all-time receiving leader.
“I need to talk to DeAngelo, I really do. He’s a pro’s pro, and he had a tough season,” Gettleman said. “The obvious loss of his mom was very, very difficult. He only played six (regular season) games this year, and it was tough for him. Before I say anything, just know he’s a pro’s pro. And the way he finished the season, he finished it like a man.”
Williams, who turns 32 in April, finished with career lows in every major rushing category after battling injuries most of the season. When Williams returned from a broken hand in December, he was reduced to part-time work behind Jonathan Stewart and Fozzy Whittaker.
Jonathan Stewart was tremendous down the stretch, averaging 105 total yards (97.0 rushing) in the final seven games, including two playoff games. He averaged 5.30 YPC in that span, including 5.13 YPC versus Arizona and 5.38 YPC against Seattle in the playoffs. Over the final five games of the regular season, he was the #10 fantasy running back. He turns 28 in March, so there is definitely some tread left on his tires. Even though he has missed 20 percent of his team's games throughout the career, he'll be a high-upside pick if Williams is let go.
"That's something that coach [John Harbaugh] and I will have to address," Smith said. "I don't know when I'm supposed to be going and and when I am not supposed to be going. I'll let Coach handle it."
Harbaugh declined to update Smith's injury, the story went on to say. It also added that this is a tough injury because not only has Smith become their top receiver, but Marlon Brown suffered a concussion in the first half. Steve L. Smith would be line to be the WR1 if Torrey Smith is out for Week 14. Michael Campanaro, who is expected back in Week 14, Kamar Aiken, Jacoby Jones and Jeremy Butler are next up on the depth chart.
Saturday, November 15, 2014, 12:48pm
The Steve Smith redemption song has skipped in recent weeks.
The veteran wide receiver began the second chapter of his distinguished NFL career in wildly successful fashion, emerging immediately as Joe Flacco's favorite target with the Ravens. Smith was putting up All-Pro numbers, and making the Panthers look foolish while he was at it.
It was a win-win situation for the outspoken star.
Smith's impact has lessened in recent weeks, however. Smith had just three receptions for 17 yards against the Titans on Sunday. He's been held under 40 yards receiving in each of the last three weeks. This comes after an open to the season in which Smith eclipsed 100 yards receiving in four of Baltimore's first six games.
"It's getting spread around a little bit, but I think that's the nature of the game," Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said, according to CSNBaltimore.com. "I think Torrey (Smith) is playing as well as he's played all year the last few weeks. ... I have to always find ways to get guys the ball."
Torrey Smith was supposed to be the Ravens' No. 1 option when the season opened, the story said. Perhaps this is simply a case of the offense clicking into place. He has five touchdowns over the past five weeks. We figured Smith wasn't going to be left out of the offense forever. He's always been a boom or bust type of fantasy play but Smith certainly has big-play potential.
Otherwise, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound wide receiver out of Florida State had a strong preseason and established himself as the No. 1 target the Panthers were looking for when they released Steve Smith in March.
The finger doesn't appear to be anything that will be an issue, and Benjamin played longer than he was scripted because he wanted more time on the field, the story said. Two of his four catches for 56 yards were in traffic over the middle. He's shaping up to be a potential later-round WR option who could surprise this year as Carolina's top target. His ADP is the 9th round in 10-team leagues.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 2:06pm
The veteran wideout looked more like a rookie trying to earn his spot rather than of a 14-year veteran with a standout resume. Smith put his intensity on display for his best performance of the preseason in the Ravens' 23-17 victory over Washington.
"That's kind of vintage Steve Smith," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It was great to see that."
Smith was arguably the best player on the field. He caught a game-high six passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown grab was a 24-yard diving catch in the back of the end zone near the end of the first half, which gave the Ravens a lead they would build on for the victory.
"I think this was a big step with him," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "There's a reason he's been in the league as long as he has and it's because he goes out there and fights every day."
Sunday, August 17, 2014, 10:18am
The competition for the Ravens’ final receiver spots may be closer than any other position on the team.
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak said it’s the tightest receiver battle he’s ever seen. Head Coach John Harbaugh told reporters this week that the preseason games will be critical in determining which receivers play their way onto the team.
Perhaps no player made a better case for himself Saturday against the Cowbys than third-year wideout Deonte Thompson. The speedy receiver delivered the games’ biggest play when he ran back a kickoff for a 108-yard touchdown.
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 5:16pm
Only a scaled-down version of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's playbook was revealed Thursday night, but the Ravens' overhauled offense got positive reviews.
Based on the limited sample of 10 plays during the Ravens' opening drive against the San Francisco 49ers, quarterback Joe Flacco is upbeat about the potential of the offense.
Flacco orchestrated an 80-yard drive that lasted nearly five minutes and was capped by running back Bernard Pierce's pounding 2-yard touchdown run behind blocks from right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Bill Wagner.
"We ran the ball really well and protected really well," Flacco said Saturday before a joint practice with the 49ers at the Ravens' training complex. "There is a lot to build on. I think we built a good foundation there. I think each week from here on out, we have to keep showing that improvement and building off what we did.”
During that drive, Flacco completed 4 of 5 passes for 52 yards. He had a long completion of 17 yards to versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk and connected with tight end Dennis Pitta on a 14-yard screen. Flacco also had a 12-yard throw to wide receiver Jacoby Jones and a 9-yard pass to new wide receiver Steve Smith.
In Benjamin, they have a true No. 1 receiver that Smith wasn't going to be at 35 years old. They have a dynamic player that makes difficult plays look easy.
The Panthers need someone to step into the WR1 role and they think Benjamin can. Keep in mind, this was a preseason game. Although you can feel the excitement in the writer's tone, rookie receivers don't always have a WR1-like first seasons in the NFL. Still, this was as good a first game as the team could have hoped for Benjamin, who also missed time in camp. Benjamin is ranked just 40th on our list but is getting some late-round draft attention.
Sunday, August 3, 2014, 6:41pm
Marlon Brown, the second-year WR who set a Ravens franchise rookie record in touchdown receptions last season, had his best practice of training camp Sunday, making a series of contested catches. It was another positive step forward for a player who struggled to hang onto the ball in the various offseason minicamps but now appears to be hitting his stride.
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