For the second preseason game in a row, small-college receiver candidate Aaron Mellette pulled in a touchdown pass from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor to help the Ravens recover from another sluggish performance by the first-team offense.
Who knows just how much that will mean when the coaching staff begins seriously sorting out the receiving corps, but it certainly hasn’t hurt Mellette’s chances of sticking around for awhile. He has been one of the early bright spots in a receiver competition that hasn’t featured a lot of impressive performances.
When you’re a seventh-round guy from Elon University, what other choice do you have?
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“That’s how it is,’’ Mellette said after catching a 40-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter on Thursday night. “Unless you’re in the first three rounds going in the draft, you’ve got to prove yourself after that. That’s what I try to do. When I get into the games, I’m a big-time gamer and I just like to go out there and just play.”
The Ravens are known to be more open-minded than some NFL franchises when it comes to players who don’t have a Big Ten or SEC pedigree. They used a first-round pick on Joe Flacco six years ago even though he played most of his college ball at Delaware.
“The last five or so years, the small school label is kind of getting pushed out the window,’’ Mellette said. “It doesn’t matter. If guys can play, guys can play and the NFL scouts will come and find you.”
John Harbaugh came and found him on Saturday and ordered him off the field for appearing lackadaisical, which might have left some rookies devastated. But Mellette responded to the tough love and came back to the field even more determined to prove he belongs in the NFL.
“It was that moment and then you get past it that next minute,’’ he said. “After that happened, I went right back out there in the next series and made some plays. If the coaches get on you, you can’t harp on it. You’ve got to move on.
“It’s happened since high school. My basketball coach in high school was hard on me like that, so it kind of toughened me up. Don’t let the good plays or the bad plays affect you.”
Even though no one else has stood out in the competition for the backup receiver roles, Mellette still has to be considered a longshot to dress on game days. He could end up somewhere down the depth chart or on the practice squad, but he has made sure he won’t be overlooked.
“I think it’s been great competition ever since we started OTAs,’’ he said. “Guys are battling, trying to show the coaches that we deserve that third spot or second spot. It’s good and, honestly, I love to compete. It’s part of football. I’m going to compete no matter what and try to get a spot on this 53-man roster.”