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When Ravens face Bills WR John Brown again, they know what to expect: ‘His nickname is still Smoke’

Over the first half of his first and only Ravens season, John Brown was one of the NFL’s most explosive players: 28 catches for 558 yards and four touchdowns in seven games.

But as the offense changed and quarterback Lamar Jackson ascended last year, Brown’s production dwindled. He didn’t have a 30-yard game after October. When Brown hit free agency, he signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Buffalo Bills.

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The Brown the Ravens will face Sunday at New Era Field is in some ways an improvement on last year’s best iteration. While his yards per catch have fallen from 17.0 to 14.5, Brown is 15th in the NFL in receiving yards (882). He also has five touchdowns in 12 games, as many as he did all last season.

“His nickname is still ‘Smoke,’ and it’s that for a reason,” defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said Thursday. “He’s doing really well.”

Publicly, there’s no hard feelings between the two sides. Brown told Buffalo reporters that he was “thankful” for his experience in Baltimore. Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said the chance to “get another go in live-game reps with him will be really exciting.”

Humphrey said Brown’s sure-handedness got his attention on tape. After catching less than 50% of his targets last season, Brown has 61 receptions on 91 passes thrown his way in 2019.

“You’ve just got to understand the scouting report,” safety Earl Thomas II said. “If the guy’s fast, you’ve got to know where he’s at. And if it’s your responsibility to take care of the deep part of the field, you’ve got to do that.”

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