Wide receiver Torrey Smith was sidelined with a sprained right ankle Friday night, thrusting former Maryland teammate LaQuan Williams into the starting lineup for the Ravens' 27-12 preseason loss to the Detroit Lions.
Quarterback Joe Flacco made sure Williams made the most of the opportunity. He targeted the second-year wideout a team-high six times, including four looks on the team's second drive of the game. The sequence featured two tries at the end zone, one of which was well within Williams' grasp.
On first and 7, Flacco found him in the far corner of the end zone, but Lions cornerback Chris Houston got a hand on the ball.
"I thought I was going to get one," said Williams, who is vying for the Ravens' No. 4 wide receiver spot and finished with two catches for 22 yards. "[Houston] made a good play on the ball. Hopefully, next time, we'll get in the lab and complete one."
Williams has had a standout training camp but has been less productive in the two preseason games. He has a combined 28 yards receiving through two games and has caught just three of 10 passes intended for him.
"I feel like I've had some days where I need to capitalize on things a little bit more," Williams said. "But overall, I feel like I'm doing decent."
Pierce gives himself a C-minus
Rookie running back Bernard Pierce, who missed eight practices and the first preseason game with a recurring hamstring injury, finished with one yard on four carries in his debut Friday.
The third-round draft choice gave himself a "C-minus" for the performance, explaining that he wasn't able to complete all of his routes. He added that he's still getting used to the pro game, and he's not concerned about his battle for the No. 2 running back job.
"You can't think about it," Pierce said. "You think about it, that's just another thing that's going to hinder your performance come game day."
Taylor up and down
Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor played a little more than a half in the loss and steered the offense to one field goal in his eight drives. He was the team's leading rusher with 60 yards on seven carries, but was just 8-for-22 for 65 passing yards.
"I missed some guys, but that's just how the game goes," he said. "You've got to play through it."
Harbaugh wanted to reserve judgment on Taylor's performance until after he looked at the tape, but he called him a "playmaker" and was encouraged that he "moved the ball a little bit."
Upshaw 'needed' first test
After missing the preseason opener with a sprained right shoulder, rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw made his debut Friday. He did not start, but he saw action with the first-team defense.
"I needed this game. I just wanted to get the feel of it and really enjoy the experience," said Upshaw, a second-round pick in April's draft. "Being home at M&T Bank Stadium, it felt good."
Twenty-eight defensive players from the Ravens showed up on the stat sheet, but Upshaw was not one of them.
"What I take from this game is that I want to make more plays," Upshaw said. "The speed of the game is different. ... But I just want to be more productive and help this team on defense."
Upshaw is that he felt fine after the game. After he took off his shoulder pads, he said that even though the shoulder still isn't 100 percent healthy, it is "definitely" getting better.
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