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Undrafted Rookies Impress With Big Plays on Bigger Stage

Posted Aug 11, 2017

Wide receivers Tim White and C.J. Board both brought in long catches and cornerback Jaylen Hill came down with an interception.

Going into the first preseason game, Head Coach John Harbaugh said it would be a test for the undrafted rookies who have impressed lately in training camp.

It’s one thing to stand out during a few practices, but it’s another to translate that to a game when the stage is magnified. Some players thrive under bigger circumstances, and others wilt under the pressure.

Well several of Baltimore’s undrafted rookies passed their first test in Thursday’s 23-3 victory over the Washington Redskins. Wide receiver Tim White scored a 33-yard touchdown, cornerback Jaylen Hill hauled in an interception, running back Taquan Mizzell led the team with 51 rushing yards and receiver C.J. Board brought down an impressive 36-yard snag.

“It’s very encouraging to see those guys step up and make plays,” Harbaugh said. “Going into the lights and game situations, they came up and made some plays.”

White’s touchdown continued an impressive run he’s had lately in practice. He had his first coming out party in the open practice during the first week of camp, and he’s continued to make a case for himself amongst a crowded group of receivers.

The touchdown came on a pass to the front corner of the end zone where White used his speed to gain separation from the defender and then adjusted to a slightly underthrown ball to make the catch just before going out of bounds. 

“It feels like the environment for me,” White said. “I definitely love being out here. The fans showed up and it was a great opportunity to show myself again. It seems like all the young receivers did that today.”

White also had an 8-yard carry on an end-around and took the first reps at punt returner. He didn’t spring any long returns, but it’s clear the Ravens are taking a long look at him as the potential starting returner.

Hill’s interception also continued his strong performances over the last week. He’s shown a knack for playmaking and putting himself around the football, and he’s been a pleasant surprise among a deep secondary.

The Ravens have already lost cornerbacks Tavon Young and Maurice Canady to knee injuries, and Marlon Humphrey and Sheldon Price have also missed time lately with issues. Those injuries have created opportunities for Hill, and he’s made the most of it.

His second-quarter interception Thursday set up kicker Justin Tucker’s long field goal just before halftime, and he’s certainly put himself in the mix for a roster spot.

“It was fun to celebrate the play with the guys on the sideline, but I also kept thinking that I had to move on to the next play,” Hill said.

Mizzell and Board also flashed with their plays in the second half. The Ravens gave Mizzell a heavy dose of work as he ran a game-high 11 times on the night, and then Board made his catch on the game’s final possession.

All the undrafted rookies still have their work cut out for them if they’re going to find themselves on the roster this fall, and they need to continue to build on what they started Thursday night.

“It’s one of those moments where you just need to live in it,” White said. “It’s just an awesome experience and I can’t wait until we get out there again.”

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