There was no escaping Head Coach John Harbaugh's sharp words on the practice field last Saturday. They were clear as day for the team, the media, the fans and rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette to hear.
Harbaugh called Mellette "lazy" and "lackadaisical," and told Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell to get him off the field.
The Ravens' seventh-round pick seemed to be in the doghouse. But if he ever was, he's out now.
Mellette caught a 40-yard touchdown that jumpstarted the Ravens' comeback victory Thursday night against Atlanta. He has now scored two touchdowns in his first two NFL games.
"I think he has done a great job of battling through some adversity and responding well to some hard coaching," Harbaugh said with a smile. "And that's the mark of a guy that I think has a lot of character, a lot of confidence – so he's done really well. I'm proud of him, very proud of him."
Mellette said his high school basketball coach used to be hard on him, so he's accustomed to taking criticism and having to bounce back.
"It kind of toughened me up," he said. "You can't let the good plays or the bad plays affect you."
Harbaugh said Mellette had a great week of practice following the outburst.
"You be on my butt, I'm going to go out there and be like, 'Alright, let's get after it,'" Mellette said. "Whatever he said, I don't want [Harbaugh] to have a perceived notion about me."
Mellette has had to grow up quick in the NFL. The Division I-AA Elon product has had to make a big leap in terms of competition level. But he's adapted well, and coaches have said it seems that the game isn't too big for him.
Mellette caught a tough 21-yard touchdown against Tampa Bay in the preseason opener. He celebrated by doing Jacoby Jones' signature dance. Then he came back and easily beat the Falcons safety for another score on a deep ball.
The rookie said he told backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the huddle to "just let it fly" if he saw the Atlanta safety slow to turn and run.
"He let it go, and I tracked it down and just grabbed it," the 6-foot-2, 217-pounder said. "I ain't slow. Maybe guys don't think I'm that fast, but you give me three strides and I'm going to be right on you and maybe right by you."
Behind Torrey Smith, no Ravens receiver has made much of an impact yet in the preseason. Jacoby Jones has one catch in two games for four yards. Tandon Doss has one 5-yard catch, that went for a touchdown. Deonte Thompson missed Thursday's game with a foot injury. New addition Brandon Stokley didn't record a reception in his first game. David Reed, Tommy Streeter, nor any of the undrafted rookie receivers have stood out over both games.
Mellette, who said he's hoping to become "the steal of the draft," left it up to the coaches to decide whether he deserves more looks with the first-team offense. He's been running almost exclusively with the second- and third-team units, but he's excited for more.
"I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing; go out there and catch touchdowns," he said with a chuckle.
"It's been a great competition ever since we started OTAs. Guys are battling, trying to show the coaches that we deserve the third spot or second spot. I love to compete. It's part of football – competing no matter what – and I'm trying to get a spot on this 53-man roster."