Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Ravens enthusiastic about deep group of pass catchers

OWINGS MILLS - A little more than two weeks ago, the Ravens went into a game against the Bills with only three wide receivers healthy enough to play in the game.
But heading into this week's game against the Steelers, Baltimore's group of pass catchers is as healthy and collectively far along as it has been at any point this season.
Quarterback Joe Flacco's numbers were underwhelming through three quarters of Sunday's game against the Packers. But with Jacoby Jones back healthy, with the way Marlon Brown and Tandon Doss have emerged and with the plays tight ends Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson have made the last two games, the Ravens feel they now have several viable weapons to go along with Torrey Smith.
"Having everyone at full strength helps us be more versatile," Dickson said. "Jacoby's definitely a great wide receiver. Torrey's been playing outstanding for us. Marlon's been playing really well. Tandon's starting to come on. The tight ends are starting to pick up their play. Pick your poison."
Getting Jones back in itself provides a big lift.
"He runs fast, and he gets open," Flacco said. "The fact he can do that on the other side of the field as Torrey, it makes it tough for teams to protect against [Torrey] and cover the middle of the field and cover our running backs and all of that stuff. It just opens everything up."
And with Jones back, Baltimore has several different players that can hurt defenses in a variety of ways.
Smith and Jones both have great speed. Brown is 6-foot-5 and can play both outside and in the slot. And Doss is a slot-type guy with decent size at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds and arguably the best hands on the Ravens' roster.
Baltimore also has another speed guy in Deonte Thompson, who has seen playing time in recent weeks, and it has the two tight ends, Clark and Dickson.
"It's hard for a defense to key on one person and say, 'We're going to take this guy away' because we can get them in a lot of different ways," Dickson said.
That wasn't necessarily apparent against Green Bay on Sunday, although part of the reason for that was the Ravens' continued struggles in pass protection.
Whatever the reason, Flacco was just 8 of 19 for 113 yards in the first half, but he was 12 of 15 for 229 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half.
Smith finished the game with by far his lowest output of the season, just one catch for 12 yards, but Doss had 99 yards on four catches, Clark had 81 yards and a touchdown on four catches, Brown had three catches for 71 yards, and Jones had two catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Doss, Brown, Clark and Jones each had a catch that went for a gain of 31 yards or longer.
Jones was only on the field for 20 of Baltimore's 70 offensive plays in his first game action since spraining his knee in Week 1, but coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Jones' workload on offense should progressively increase in the coming games.
"You can tell when he's on the field. Defenses have to prepare for it," Flacco said of Jones. "[But] I think the exciting thing is that we've gotten to really find out what kind of players some of these other guys are [when Jones was out], and we're going to be able to rely on them in the future."
Brown and Doss in particular.
Brown missed Week 5 because of a hamstring injury, but he has 17 catches for 221 yards and a team-high three touchdowns in the five games he has played in. Doss had the four catches versus the Packers, three catches for 58 yards against the Dolphins and four catches for 47 yards against the Bills in Week 4.
"We know what guys can do. But [now], how do they fit in with one another? We're still doing that," Harbaugh said. "I mentioned Monday that we are in flux that way probably with the wide receivers. [But] it's a good flux because we've got talented guys. Now, how do we utilize those guys? I'm excited to see how that plays out."