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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Ravens wide receivers enter the minicamp facing renewed scrutiny. Early returns are promising.

These days the Ravens have a basketball hoop in the middle of the locker room. James Proche II made it to the facility not too long ago, meaning he and his fellow wide receivers could kill time with shootarounds and dunk sessions. Prosh joked to Devin DuVernay that it was one of his best purchases of the year, another competing outlet for one of the Ravens’ most interesting groups.

“They’re playing literally all the time,” hard end Mark Andrews said on Tuesday. “It’s a close group. They’re a hungry group. They know what’s at stake, and they’re ready to go, man.”

However, success is anything but a slam dunk. After trading Marquis “Hollywood” Brown, their explosive but disgruntled No. 1 wide receiver, this off-season to the Arizona Cardinals, the Ravens are back to answer familiar off-season questions about the polarizing situation.

How good can their young but unproven wide receiver be? How good should they be? What’s next for a group facing low external expectations?

“Every day, when you wake up as a coach or a player in the National Football League, you know you have to bring it on,” Ravens wide receivers coach Tye Martin, a former NFL wide receiver, said after the second day. Told. Mandatory minicamp on Wednesday. “And so having been a former player in the league, and now back as a coach, it just comes with the field. No one will be tougher on us than we are, and no one expects more from us So, yes, you hear it. It just adds fuel to the fire. But we are all a self-motivated group.”

With Sammy Watkins signing with the Browns and Green Bay Packers in Arizona, there’s plenty of room for growth. Rashod Bateman, Tylon Wallace, DuVernay and Proche combined 22 wide receivers for 1,012 receiving yards last season. The Browns produced nearly half with 1,008 yards in 16 games before seeking a trade in the off-season.

The Ravens didn’t worry about finding a replacement for a big name. He drafted Charlie Kolar and Isaiah potentially two tight ends in the fourth round. He signed some productive unfinished receivers. But he mostly put his hopes in the return of quarterback Lamar Jackson and his talent development of inexperienced wide receiver – a Day 1 draft pick (Bateman), a Day 2 pick (DuVernay) and two Day 3 picks (Wallace and Proch). .

“I feel like they believe in the people they have,” said DuVernay, an All-Pro punt returner who finished fifth over the Ravens in receiving yards (272) last season. “I mean, they drafted us for a reason, I think so. So I feel like they feel strongly about us, and every day in this practice area, we just put them in their decisions.” Let’s try to prove it right.”

Returns in Minicamp have been promising. Jackson, who abandoned the team’s voluntary practices in organized team activities, elevated the team’s passing game. Bateman, a first-round pick in last year’s draft who finished as a rookie for 515 yards despite preseason groin surgery, had a 65-yard touchdown catch on Wednesday on a picture-perfect deep shot from Jackson and the Ravens. Has been a top downfield threat during offseason workouts.

Bateman, who won’t turn 23 by November, will be expected to lead a group whose oldest returning contributor, Proche, is just 25.

“You do it by working and not talking, and that’s what he did,” Martin said. “He’s come in and just put his head down and goes to work. I’ve seen him mature, just grow up. … The NFL is very different from college in terms of defensive disguises and things of that nature. But with a year under his belt, things of that nature in the language we are talking about, that is where I have seen him grow and mature in this upcoming season.”

DuVernay, who has been silent in OTA practices open to journalists, has ramped up his production during the minicamp. In Wednesday’s 11-on-11 action, he worked the sideline for a catch on the out-breaking route and later intercepted a pass in traffic at the crossing pattern.

“A lot of improvement from last season,” said Martin. “That’s what you want to see in a young player. There were a few things that we wanted to expand and improve during the off-season. He saw it in the film, came back with a working mindset, he has been here since we started. Mentally, physically, he’s taken another step, and so I’m just waiting for that to translate into territory. ,

Proche, whose production came quickly last season—he had 74 yards against the Denver Broncos in October, 76 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in December, and 52 yards the rest of the season—made a sure-handed choice in the slot. Has happened.

In Wednesday’s two-minute practice, Jackson found him three times in the span of four completions. First Prosh frees himself to complete a short outside off cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Next, he got behind inside linebacker Patrick Queen for a nice advantage in the middle. Then he caught another pass to the right to stop the clock.

“Just keep making the plays coming to him,” Martin said of Proche. “You look at last season, back to the Denver game – he had some big grabs for us in third place. Go back to Cincinnati late in the season – some big grabs on third down. And when he’s playing on the field, Just keep on pretending and do what we’re asking him to do within the offense.”

Wallace had one of the minicamp’s best routes in Tuesday’s practice, a double move that left safety Brandon Stephens grabbing for the air as Wallace cruised down the left for a big finale from quarterback Tyler Huntley. Had been. One particular team specialized as a rookie, having shown improvement as a receiver in minicamp, catching passes at every level.

“Great hands, really good route runner, and very tough and physical,” Martin said. “I got to see it in special teams. He was a guy, coming in, I had no idea he’d play on special teams like that, and he really proved to us how tough he was on special teams.

“And that translated into games, where, later in the season, we relied on some stuff in the run game for ourselves as well as some empty formations and things of that nature. He had a role and he did a good job later in the season. done, and this role will grow as we move forward.”

The growth of a group can determine not only its output but also its play time. The Ravens spent part of Wednesday’s practice in three-tight-end packages, leaving room for just one wide receiver on the field. Roman, one of the NFL’s most run-heavy coordinators, hasn’t shied away from a hefty personnel package.

Andrews, an All-Pro last season, and Bateman will be tough to sideline. However, after them, it could also be an open competition for Snaps. Martin said the offense is “about doing what we have to do to win the game, regardless of the personnel on the field.”

“At the end of the day, we’re just trying to prove ourselves right,” DuVernay said. “We know what we can do. We all trust each other. I mean, no matter what the media says, we don’t pay attention to what other people say. We’re just going out there and Playing ball is how we know.”


World Nation News Desk
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