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Marlon Brown Competing For Starting Spot

Posted Mar 27, 2014

John Harbaugh says the Ravens’ top four receivers are going to play a lot.

It speaks to the talent the Ravens have at wide receiver that there’s even a question of where a player like Marlon Brown fits in. After all, he tied the franchise rookie record with seven touchdowns

The Ravens have a budding star in Torrey Smith. They re-signed Jacoby Jones and inked veteran Steve Smith Sr.

So where does Brown fit?

“He’s competing for a starting spot,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said at Tuesday’s owners meetings.

“It’s not a two-receiver league anymore. It’s not like you’ve got your two starters and then your No. 3 guy is a slot receiver. That’s the way that people kind of want to label it. It’s just more complex than that.”

The Ravens used a rotation of receivers last year, partly because of injury and partly because they were searching for an answer for their short, intermediate and over-the-middle passing attack.

Smith was almost always on the field. He missed 38 offensive snaps in 16 games, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Once Jones returned to full speed from his early-season knee injury, he was also frequently used. Over the final four games, he played about 90 percent of the offensive snaps.

Brown played about 80 percent of the offensive snaps throughout the entire year. His role did not decrease even when Jones’ increased.

But how will the addition of Smith Sr., impact things? He was banged up by injuries last year and still played 78 percent of the offensive snaps in Carolina.

Harbaugh sees room for all of them.

“You’ve got four guys right there that are going to play a lot of football,” he said. “And one thing I think Coach Kubiak does a great job of is he understands how to put guys in a position to play to their strengths.”

Jones is a vertical burner who has also matured into a reliable pass catcher. Smith Sr. will work the intermediate routes and middle of the field. He’s very effective in the slot and at making tough, contested catches. Smith has become more of a complete receiver who can burn teams on shallow drags or make plays deep down the field.

Brown is a 6-foot-4, 205 pounder who is difficult to bring down and can use his frame well to shield defenders. He proved to be a valuable red-zone target. Harbaugh also mentioned Aaron Mellette, a 2013 sixth-round pick who sat out last season because of a knee injury.

“I think that Gary’s got some guys that he’s excited to work with, so I can’t wait to see how he uses them,” Harbaugh said.

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