A disappointing season for Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown has taken another difficult turn, as a back injury has kept him from climbing back up the depth chart after a bye week shuffle moved him down the wide receiver pecking order.
Brown spent the first eight weeks of the season as the No. 3 wide receiver behind Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken, playing nearly two-thirds of the offensive snaps but catching just 13 passes for 106 yards before the Week 9 bye.
Even without Smith, who tore his Achilles in Week 8, the Ravens came out of the week off with midseason trade acquisition Chris Givens and practice squad call-up Jeremy Butler as the second and third receivers behind Aiken. Brown played five snaps with one catch for six yards in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and four snaps the next week against the St. Louis Rams before his back issue cropped up.
Brown missed time in August with a back injury when it locked up on him on the second day of training camp, and then developed a hamstring injury during his recovery. He was held out of the first preseason game as a result, but Brown said this back injury, which kept him out Monday against the Cleveland Browns and has stopped him from practicing this week, is unrelated.
"It's something different," Brown said. "I'm just taking it day-by-day and just keep rehabbing, keep training and we'll see what happens."
That, and not his slide down the depth chart, is what Brown is focusing on in the final month of the season.
"Honestly, the only thing I can control is what I can control, that's how I look at it. I never look at all the excess things that are going on because I can't control those," Brown said. "The only thing I can control is MB, so that's all I kind of do, you know?"
Brown entered the season with something to prove after the acquisition of Smith for 2014 knocked him down in the pecking order after his seven-touchdown rookie season in 2013. Brown caught 31 passes for 255 yards last year, including a stretch of 18 straight receptions without a drop, and had five catches on a season-high eight targets in the playoff loss to New England.
But he has seen his role shrink since then, and needs the rest of 2015 to re-establish himself in the Ravens offense going forward.