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Behind Steve Smith Sr., Ravens wide receiver group developing each game

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Marlon Brown thinks Kamar AIken stole his touchdown, but is happy for the growth in the Ravens receiver group.

A small and ultimately insignificant quibble was settled Sunday evening as the dust settled after the Ravens’ 25-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

All year, wide receivers Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown have been under a small bit of scrutiny in a passing offense that seems to go as veteran Steve Smith Sr. goes, and on Sunday, Brown had an opportunity to silence some of his critics with his first touchdown reception since 2013.

On a scramble play in the red zone late in the fourth quarter, Brown wrestled free of his coverage and was streaking open in the back of the end zone. The ball was coming his way before Aiken seemingly appeared out of nowhere to snag the pass.

“We talked about it and were laughing about it,” Brown said. “He stole my touchdown, but it’s all good, though. We scored. It’s a team thing.”

As a team, the Ravens utilized nearly every pass-catching option at their disposal to collect 353 receiving yards. Smith accounted for 139 of them, and the wide receiver group otherwise had nine catches on 19 targets for 83 yards. Brown had one catch for nine yards, while Aiken had three for 22 including the touchdown. Relative newcomers Jeremy Ross and Chris Givens had three catches for 34 yards and two receptions for 18 yards, respectively.

Smith was again the focal point of the passing attack, with a team-leading 10 targets, and 13 targets went to the backfield trio of Justin Forsett, Buck Allen and Kyle Juszczyk. But Brown believes the complementary group of receivers behind the five-time Pro Bowl receiver Smith is improving by the game.

“I feel like we’re doing pretty good,” he said. “I feel like most of the balls that come our way, we’re making plays on. Every week, we’re getting better. We’re just getting confidence, especially Kamar. I feel like if we just keep doing that, we’ll be good.”

Ross, whose role expanded and also had a key third-down carry on a jet sweep similar to how the Ravens used Michael Campanaro before his season-ending back injury, welcomes the growing role. He also had a second kick return of over 40 yards in as many weeks to solidify himself as an impact player in that phase.

“Whenever you can come in and help your team in any way, that is always a good feeling,” Ross said. “So I feel good about it and get an opportunity to be on the team and get an opportunity to help contribute.”

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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