Ravens' game No. 1 fails to give an answer about No. 2 receiver

Although team was conservative in offensive approach, top candidates for role didn't make the best of their opportunities against Tampa Bay

Before the start of training camp, the Ravens were looking for a No.2 wide receiver.

And after the preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, they are still in search of that player.

The Ravens were quite conservative in their offensive approach against the Buccaneers, and quarterback Joe Flacco seemed more content staying with the short passing game than going vertical. The strategy cut down on the number of chances for receivers.

But when there were opportunities, the receivers didn't make the best of them as there were several drops, including one by veteran Jacoby Jones, who started opposite of Torrey Smith. None of the top candidates for the No. 2 spot — Jones, Deonte Thompson and Tandon Doss — gained any separation from the others, and David Reed didn't play because of a groin injury.

Two receivers — LaQuan Williams and Aaron Mellette — stood out in the game and neither is considered a serious candidate to be the Ravens' No. 2. But Williams might have changed a few minds by catching four passes for 32 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He also made two big plays on special teams.

Thompson left the locker room after the game with what appeared to be an ankle injury, and that might force the Ravens to explore free agents or the waiver wire for another receiver in the next couple of weeks.

The lack of a No. 2 receiver might not have been a big deal if the Ravens hadn't already lost tight end Dennis Pitta for the season early in training camp with a dislocated hip. At this point — and it's very early in the season — the loss of star receiver Anquan Boldin might be bigger than the Ravens expected.

Offensive line needs time

The offensive line was solid against Tampa Bay, but there might not be a true evaluation until several games into the season.

The Ravens gave Flacco and Taylor ample time to throw against the Buccaneers, but left tackle Bryant McKinnie isn't in game shape yet. The Ravens were also without starting right guard Marshal Yanda, one of their best lineman, even though left guard Kelechi Osemele is just as good.

The key for any line, though, is chemistry and timing, and Yanda probably won't play until the season opener. That wouldn't have made a difference last year with Matt Birk as the starting center, but the Ravens have replaced the retired Birk with second-year player Gino Gradkowski.

He has had very little time working with Yanda and Osemele.

Scary hit on Pierce

Ravens officials held their breath when running back Bernard Pierce took a shot in the knee after scoring on a 20-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

It was borderline cheap and totally unnecessary because Pierce had already crossed the goal line. More importantly, it was just a preseason game. There was no need for that hit.

Oh, by the way: Great block by guard Ramon Harewood on Buccaneers linebacker Najee Goode to spring Pierce for the touchdown.

Nice style with Taylor

I like what offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell does with Taylor.

Instead of trying to pretend he is a drop-back quarterback, Caldwell puts him in different packages, including the option formation and more sprint-out passes than Flacco.

It makes so much sense.

 
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