In his conference call with permanent seat-license holders Tuesday, team owner Steve Bisciotti was asked where the Ravens stand at wide receiver and he backed second-year pro Chris Moore as the team’s No. 4 behind (in no particular order) Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Jeremy Maclin.
“We have a lot of confidence in Chris Moore to be our fourth wideout and let the competition begin with the fifth and sixth wideout,” Bisciotti said.
Moore, a fourth-round draft pick in 2016, will need to keep progressing to hold that spot. However, if that’s how it plays out, it should indeed be an interesting competition. Special teams will factor in, and injuries always come into play.
But for discussion’s sake, let’s say Wallace, Perriman, Maclin and Moore are all healthy at the start of the season. That leaves Michael Campanaro, Chris Matthews, Keenan Reynolds, Kenny Bell and undrafted rookie free agents Tim White, Tim Patrick, Aaron Bailey, C.J. Board and Quincy Adeboyejo competing for one or two spots.
Campanaro and Matthews probably are the favorites, but their margin of error thinned with the Maclin addition.
Campanaro, who missed the minicamp and some of the OTAs because of a toe injury, needs to be ready to go from day one of training camp and not have any setbacks.
Reynolds and other unheralded targets
Reynolds, the former Navy quarterback, will have to have a great training camp to make the team, but it was obvious last week that he’s improved.
In last summer’s practices, he struggled to gain separation, regularly dropped or juggled passes, punts or kickoffs, and didn’t seem to be playing fast.
In last week’s minicamp and during the OTAs, he looked far more natural as both a receiver and a returner. He fielded punts cleanly and confidently and made a handful of tough catches, including a nifty one-hander in Thursday’s practice. He did drop a few passes and after one of them, he immediately walked over to the JUGS machine to catch some balls.
It’s clear he has plenty of work to do and an uphill battle in front of him, but it’s also obvious that he’s put in work.
Two other guys who haven’t been talked about much but stood out were Bell and Vince Mayle, a receiver who the Ravens have moved to tight end. After spending last season on the practice squad, Bell worked with the second teamers and made quite a few catches.
Mayle, who is 6 feet 2 and 228 pounds, looks more suited for his new position. I didn’t get a chance to see him block in a noncontact practice, but he was a factor in the passing game.
Up and down
I’ve opined on several occasions that converted wide receiver Darren Waller is the most talented and gifted tight end that the Ravens have. Nothing I’ve seen so far through the OTAs and minicamp has changed that belief, but you can see why Waller can frustrate the coaching staff.
On one play, he’s running past starting safety Tony Jefferson and making a big catch downfield. A few plays later, a pass bounced off his hands and was intercepted.
The Ravens need to get faster and more athletic offensively, and Waller provides those dimensions. They’re probably just going to have to live with the occasional drop, poor route or missed assignment, given Waller’s upside.
All seven players who didn’t practice on the last day of minicamp were dealing with injuries that preceded the week.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh indicated that two of them – Young who is likely out for the season with a torn left ACL; and Maxx Williams who is recovering from knee surgery – likely won’t be ready for the start of training camp.
I’d still expect the Ravens to ease Marshal Yanda and C.J. Mosley, who are both coming off shoulder surgery, into training camp.
Either way, the team figures to be in decent shape health-wise when camp begins late next month.
Remember what they say about hindsight
The questions about why they didn’t take Alabama tight end O.J. Howard started immediately after Pitta got injured. However, that’s nonsense.
If C.J. Mosley goes down, the Ravens should have added another inside linebacker. If Terrance West or Kenneth Dixon gets hurt, they surely should have signed LeGarrette Blount. Every team in the league has a few positions that would immediately become a problem with an injury or two.
That’s the nature of the salary cap.
The question is not whether Decker would help the Ravens. He’s a good player, so he almost certainly would. But the Ravens’ biggest area of concern right now is the offensive line, so it makes absolute sense to devote the little salary-cap space the team has remaining on upgrades there.
That won’t mean the Ravens made a mistake if they lose one of their top receivers to injury and Decker isn’t around to slot into that spot.
That Terrell Suggs and Jimmy Smith, two of the Ravens' more independent players, ditched their normal plan of working out on their own and took part in the team’s offseason program is quite a statement about the confidence the players have in the team’s director of performance, Steve Saunders.
No offensive linemen took public shots at former position coach Juan Castillo, and several of them hold him in high regard. However, it was pretty obvious they are excited by the emphasis new coaches Greg Roman and Joe D’Alessandris are putting on developing a more downhill and physical running attack. The Ravens won’t abandon zone blocking, but the plan is to feature a lot more diversity with their schemes.
I lost track of how many balls running back Danny Woodhead caught during the minicamp. On one red-zone play, Woodhead juked Kamalei Correa so badly on a route that the weak-side linebacker fell, and heard about it from his coaches. Otherwise, Correa had a solid week, and his most impressive performance was probably behind the microphone. Clearly uncomfortable in interviews last year, he was honest, forthcoming and accountable when he spoke to reporters Wednesday. When informed that Bisciotti said the Ravens put too much on him last year when they moved him around from the outside to the inside, Correa said the responsibility was on him to adjust. It sure seems he learned a lot from a challenging rookie year. He looked like he was playing much quicker as well.
The coaches, specifically Bobby Engram, have put in a lot of work in developing Perriman. So, too, has fellow wide receiver Wallace. Wallace and Perriman are inseparable on the field. When Wallace goes over to the JUGS machine, Perriman is by his side. Perriman is an introvert, and there have been times the past two years where it hasn’t looked like he was having any fun on the field. However, the upbeat and playful Wallace always has Perriman smiling. When Perriman had the wind knocked out of him Wednesday, Wallace jogged to the other side of the field to make sure Perriman was OK, and then stayed with him for a while. It was cool to see.