Much of the talk leading into Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions focused on stopping big wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Now the Ravens have a different test this week against the Patriots.
New England still has one of the best passing attacks in the NFL, but it’s led by a group of smaller, shifty receivers who work the middle of field. To limit the Patriots quick-strike offense, the Ravens plan to take a similar approach to the one they used against the Lions’ big targets last week.
“We’re going to play them the same way we’ve been playing them – physical,” cornerback
Julian Edelman (5-foot-10, 198 pounds) and Danny Amendola (5-11, 195) are New England’s top two receivers. Edelman leads the team with 89 receptions for 914 yards and six touchdowns. Amendola has 51 catches for 579 yards and two scores.
They play the role that Wes Welker excelled in during his time in New England, allowing the Patriots to stick with the same offense even through a significant personnel change.
“The Patriots do as good a job as anybody in the league, and have over the years, of fitting players into their offense and then taking advantage of the things that they do well,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “They do the underneath stuff, the short passing game, the inside routes, and they do a great job of that.”
New England’s receiving corps is almost entirely different from the one the Ravens saw in their two games last season. Welker is in Denver and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd never got a job this offseason. The tight ends are also different, as Rob Gronkowski is on injured reserve and Aaron Hernandez is in prison.
Now the group is built around Edelman and Amendola, along with veteran target Austin Collie and young receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins.
“It changes somewhat in terms of who does what for them,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got to be aware of what each guy does and what they do well.
“But the offense still runs through Tom Brady, and he drives it. He gets the guys in position. He’s the guy who makes it all work for them. So, it doesn’t really change in that sense. We are still playing Tom Brady.”