Jacoby Jones is currently the starting wide receiver opposite Torrey Smith on the Ravens' depth chart.
Although Jones is designated as the favorite to earn a starting job with Anquan Boldin traded to the San Francisco 49ers, he'll face competition for the position.
“Jacoby right now is the No. 2 guy,” receivers coach Jim Hostler said. “So right now, Torrey and Jacoby are starting, so that’s definitely going to be more than Jacoby did last year.”
Last season, Jones operated as the third receiver and caught 30 passes for 406 yards and one touchdown while making the Pro Bowl as a kick returner. He's slated to compete with several players for a starting job, including Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, David Reed and LaQuan Williams.
“It wasn’t like last year when we had two guys that were the two front-runners and everybody is playing for that third and fourth spot,” Hostler said. “Now, everybody is playing for that second spot.”
Jones had a clutch touchdown catch in the Ravens' AFC divisional-round win over the Denver Broncos to send the game into overtime, scoring on a return and a catch in the Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Jones' top season was in 2010 with the Houston Texans when he caught a career-high 51 passes for 562 yards and three touchdowns. His last year as a starter was in 2011 when he caught 31 passes for 512 yards and two touchdowns.
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In six NFL seasons, Jones has caught 157 passes for 2,147 yards and 15 touchdowns. At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Jones has a combination of size, speed and leaping ability. His route-running is regarded as solid and he has improved the consistency of his hands.
The Ravens are expected to evaluate every option, including Jones and the potential addition of another veteran receiver if the receivers on the roster now falter.
So far, Hostler is impressed.
"It’s been good," Hostler said. "They’re working hard. There’s a great competition. Obviously, as we move forward, the competition is going to get closer to training camp and through training camp, it’s going to get closer to the season, and that’s going to pick it up a notch. And all those guys had an opportunity to compete for that job.”
In particular, speedster Deonte Thompson, a former undrafted free agent from the University of Florida who has run the 40-yard dash in 4.23 seconds to 4.31 seconds, has stood out.
"Well, he’s extremely competitive," Hostler said. "He’s durable. He can grind all day. He’s a great route-runner. He’s a finisher. Those are all exciting things.”
Boldin caught 65 passes for 920 yards last season, but is more of a possession type receiver who used body control and muscle to outleverage defensive backs.
The Ravens have faster receivers than Boldin, including Jones, but none with his skill and experience.
“Speed is always a factor in this game, but it’s got to be able to play," Hostler said. "It’s not just as easy as how fast you can run, obviously, because then everybody would be the fastest guys out there. We’re fortunate right now. We’ve got a few fast guys that can play, and that’s what it’s really all about.
"We had fast guys last year that could run faster than Anquan, but they couldn’t play better than him. All of that adds that up to a football player, and that’s really what it’s all about. We’re just fortunate that a couple of those guys that are football players happen to be fast.”