Advertisement

'Go make the team': Ravens waiting on young wide receivers, tight ends to emerge

Among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players, only eight had more receiving yards than Jordan Lasley last season. As a redshirt junior, he finished with 69 catches for 1,264 yards at UCLA, 244 more than Maryland’s DJ Moore, the first receiver taken in the NFL draft.

But there were reasons Lasley lasted into the fifth round. Maturity issues were one. That he should’ve performed even better statistically was another. Lasley had a drop rate of 15.9 percent, meaning he dropped almost one of every seven passes on which he was targeted, one of the worst marks nationally, according to Pro Football Focus.

Advertisement

The Ravens’ 20-19 win Monday night over the Indianapolis Colts was only the third preseason game of Lasley’s career, but it occasioned another re-examination of two position battles on offense that no one seems intent on winning.

Lasley’s drop of a sure-thing touchdown pass from quarterback Robert Griffin III midway through the fourth quarter was only the latest misstep for a backup wide receiver. Among the second- and third-string tight ends, there wasn’t even such a lowlight to discuss postgame.

“It’s not that I’m surprised,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I just want to see it happen. I want to know who that guy is going to be. You want to make the team, you’ve got to make the catch. You want to make the team, you’ve got to make a block, you’ve got to make a tackle. Go make the team. Show us. That’s what we’re looking for those guys to do.”

The Ravens’ rookies and on-the-bubble returners had their chances. Lasley got 34 snaps on offense against Indianapolis, nearly half and fifth most overall. Targeted four times, he had one catch for 6 yards.

Undrafted rookie Janarion Grant, in his 21 snaps, had two receptions for 11 yards. Former first-round pick Breshad Perriman had one catch in 20 snaps. Tim White and fourth-round pick Jaleel Scott combined for just seven snaps on offense; neither had a catch.

And yet it was bleaker for the tight ends. Mark Andrews, widely recognized as college football’s top tight end last season, had his first two catches of the preseason Monday, but they totaled only 7 yards. Darren Waller, in his preseason debut after returning from a yearlong NFL suspension, got 14 snaps on offense and no targets. Maxx Williams wasn’t targeted in 17 snaps. Vincent Mayle saw the field only on special teams.

With a week and a half before the Sept. 1 roster deadline, there is still time to shine. But not much.

“Right now, everybody's still trying to make their way to the 53[-man roster],” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “We've got two more games to pretty much do that, so I'm telling the young guys, 'You've just got to go out there and produce. You've got to ball. Got to give you everything you got, because after these two games, you're not guaranteed anything.' There's [31] teams out there also, so if you put something on tape, you've got to go out there and get a grab, because there's other teams watching.”

Advertisement
Advertisement