Previewing Ravens-Bengals [Pictures]
As the Ravens (3-5) square off against the first-place Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) today at M&T Bank Stadium, here’s Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson’s checklist of key areas and players to keep an eye on.
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1. Are the Ravens getting Torrey Smith involved enough?( Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore Sun / September 10, 2012 )
By conventional measures, the Ravens have done plenty to involve star wide receiver Torrey Smith.
The former Maryland standout has caught 36 passes for 707 yards and is averaging 19.6 yards per reception. He's on pace to finish the season with 72 catches for 1,414 yards.
Yet Smith has caught only one touchdown and is rarely utilized in red-zone scoring opportunities.
He's been targeted a team-high 70 times, an average of 8.75 targets per game. But Smith is arguably the Ravens' only dangerous weapon this season along with undrafted rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown, who has a team-high five touchdown catches on just 26 receptions.
If the Ravens could feed Smith the ball more often on bubble screens and short crossing patterns, given his speed, he might reach the end zone more often.
Getting Smith a dozen to 15 targets per game could upgrade his chances of getting in the end zone and perhaps improve the Ravens' 21st-ranked scoring offense.
Many other NFL teams target their top receiver more often. The Dallas Cowboys have targeted Dez Bryant 88 times for 51 catches, 705 yards and eight touchdowns. The Detroit Lions have targeted Calvin Johnson 79 times for 47 receptions for 821 yards and seven touchdowns.
Is Smith in their class? No, but his production could conceivably approach that of those players with more opportunities.
"Obviously, he's an explosive player for us," offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said of Smith. "Any time that he gets the ball, he's bound to do something good for us. That's always in the back of our mind. We've been throwing it enough, but we spread it around quite a bit. "I think you're going to continue that way. Those guys will keep working at it, and you'll continue to see guys that continue to develop, get a little better and get a little bit more yardage. Torrey is a big part of that."