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Baltimore native LaQuan Williams fighting to keep Ravens roster spot

The continued development of second-year wide receiver Torrey Smith has been evident at the team’s two organized team activities that were open to media. Tandon Doss, who has buffed up a bit, has also caught my eye. And then there’s LaQuan Williams, now in his second NFL season, who continues to exceed expectations.

As my colleague Jeff Zrebiec wrote this morning, Williams has really stood out at these offseason workouts. His game appears to be a little more polished, and he still has plenty of athleticism to make impressive catches. Zrebiec wrote about a couple of plays that popped out to him Wednesday -- including a nifty one-handed catch -- and he didn’t even mention the leaping grab Williams made in the back of the end zone in a red-zone drill.

We aren’t the only ones noticing Williams. WBAL’s Pete Gilbert asked Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron about Williams. In his question, he described Williams “a guy who just got his foot in the door, won’t leave and just seems to be getting better and better.” Cameron said that summed up the 23-year-old well.

Williams, who played at Poly and then the University of Maryland, made the team as a rookie free agent last summer and was active for 12 regular-season games and two in the playoffs. He contributed mostly on special teams, but also made four catches for 46 yards while Lee Evans was sidelined with a lower leg injury.

Williams recently told the team’s website that he thinks he faces an uphill battle to make the team, and clearly keeping that chip on his shoulder is serving him well. While chatting with me on Wednesday, he echoed those statements, and he added that he believes he needs to expand his game as a receiver to lock down a roster spot.

“I have to make plays on both sides of the field, on offense and special teams, to make sure I’m here. That’s something I’m always going to feel, like I have to prove myself,” said Williams, who made four special teams tackles last season. “Once you get comfortable and complacent, that’s when things stop working out for you.”

Williams was one of nine rookies who made the team’s 53-man roster last season despite the lack of offseason workouts. “The offseason has been big, big for me,” he said. Now that things have finally slowed down this spring, he is getting his timing down with quarterback Joe Flacco and is getting a better grasp on the offense.

“Being thrown in the fire [at training camp last year] helped out. Instead of learning slowly but surely, we had to learn it all at once,” Williams said. “Now that we learned already, we can explore it now and critique it.”

He feels like his route-running has really improved, and described himself as being “bigger and stronger and faster,” thanks to the offseason conditioning program. Those results have been on display the past two weeks.

“We’re expecting great things out of him,” Cameron said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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