While rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith dominated most of the headlines with his five-catch, 152-yard, three-touchdown performance against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, a pair of his classmates also got their first taste of regular-season action.
LaQuan Williams caught one pass for seven yards and filled in for the injured David Reed on kick returns, returning two kickoffs for a total of 60 yards.
“I got one,” said Williams, an undrafted free agent from the University of Maryland who was targeted three times by quarterback Joe Flacco. “I thank God. It’s a blessing.”
Tandon Doss did not catch a pass and was targeted just once, but he was active for the first time in his career.
“It was a great feeling to get out there and get my feet wet a little bit,” said Doss, the club’s fourth-round pick in April. “I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing and hopefully, I’ll be out there next week.”
Williams said the transition for the pair of rookies went smoothly.
“We practice hard every week,” he said. “So just translating the practices to the field, that was our main goal. We pretty much did that this week.”
The three wide receivers and defensive end Pernell McPhee are making contributions already. Add perhaps cornerback Jimmy Smith (if he can return from a high left ankle sprain), and this 2011 draft class has the potential to be a foundation for the team.
Coach John Harbaugh said the first-year players are making an immediate impact because that’s expected of them.
“A lot of rookies have been thrown into the mix, and I think some of them have responded and had a chance and done real well,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve obviously worked really hard to do that, and others haven’t. So you probably can’t make a blanket statement for rookies all across the board, but it’s probably an opportunity for the guys that have [contributed]. There are a number of veteran players that aren’t in the league right now that probably would have been in the league in a normal-type season.”