EDIT: Oh yeah, forgot about Laquan, he definitely has the leg up of the 3 right now.
Harper's issue was that he couldn't catch. Every time he had a chance to make his presence known in the preseason, he dropped the ball.
I think the coaching staff is going to have to look at the last WR spot as a "which of these guys offers us something we don't have?". If Streeter is just a speedy 9-route, jump ball kind of guy, don't the Ravens already have that covered with players that also offer something else?
What I'm trying to say is, Smith was much more productive than his "zero receptions" indicates. I thought he had a real chance to be a player – was excited about him coming into 2009. Then he had the preseason knee injury. That wiped out his one real chance to win a receiving job. When he came back from the knee, we had acquired Boldin, and Smith's window was closed.
As we saw last season, they will package certain players on the field. If Doss can stay healthy, he will probably be in line to be the #2/slot receiver with Thompson and Jacoby battling for playing time at the "Z" receiver spot.
In all honesty though, I think the x-factor in all of this could be Ed Dickson. He has the size and speed to be a mismatch when split out or coming off the line. That allows them to move Pitta to the slot. KJ is also a factor here as well since he is also an accomplished receiver.
Truth be told, even if Doss or Thompson or Jacoby or Reed look outstanding, they may be hard pressed to get a lot of looks when you consider that Caldwell could run a lot of dual TE sets.
Joe's top two targets will be Pitta and Torrey.
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Pat Kirwan sure is skeptical of the Ravens offense right now. He just doesn't see them replacing Boldin's catches with what's currently on the roster. It's a fair criticism but let's get into August before we go there...
Someone will step up though. I mean, Boldin had I think 64 or 65 receptions last year and Torrey had in the high 40's. There is no reason to think that they can't divide up 65 receptions among who is still there.
Pitta had 61, but I could see him even getting into the 70-80 range. Torrey should easily be able to jump from the high 40's into the 70's or 80's...maybe even more. Rice has shown that he can be a 60+ reception back. So, right there you've got 3 guys who can really pick up the slack of losing Boldin.
For schnitzengiggles, let's say that Torrey gets 80 receptions (approximately 30 more than last year), so at that point you've only got 35 receptions left to divide up. Dickson could get 10-15 more receptions on the year. KJ could easily handle 10 receptions on the year. Pitta could probably get another 10-15 receptions and at this point you've already met and/or exceeded last year. This isn't even factoring in Jacoby, Thompson, Doss, Reed, Pierce, and (hopefully) Furstenburg.
Replacing what Boldin did in the playoffs is not going to be easy at all. However, we aren't talking about a guy who had 100+ receptions, 10 TD's and 1000+ yards. Maybe that had more to do with Cam than we thought (certainly seems like it base on the playoffs); however, I definitely think that guys like Pitta and Dickson can help alleviate that loss.
I'm really hoping Furstenburg makes this team too because he is another pretty athletic TE that was horribly under-utilized at MD.
IMO much of the skepticism over the Boldin-less Ravens is less about catch numbers than about who's going to step up now. I look at the Gil Brandt quote in wicked's sig----& I think that might apply to WRs as well.Quote:
When it comes to quarterbacks, don't pay attention to stats; pay attention to guys who make crucial plays at crucial times
In the playoffs Q went up & made the tough catches to put points on the board & keep drives moving. Doss--the most obvious candidate to take his place--muffed a couple of tough catches. Not routine catches--but still, someone has to step up, & as of the moment the jury is out on who might, or even if there's anyone on the roster who could.
I feel strongly that one or more of the "kids" is going to step up & the offense will ignite, but I wear ultraviolet specs--& I can't fault the pundits for their skepticism. At least not unless & until they start ignoring evidence to the contrary.
Ravens will develop their own Cruz this year with who is already on the team. I have faith in the Raven coaches, the NFL will get to see the Ravens offense come alive with Caldwell and Flacco . Not worried about stats, just wins.
I believe it's commonly overlooked that Joe dropped in some nice passes for Boldin to grab. I've watched those catches several time and although Boldin deserves credit, I don't think Joe got his due for fitting passes into tight windows.