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Can Marlon Brown Avoid Sophomore Slump?


Sophomore slump?

In order for that to happen, Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown would have to realize he's not a rookie anymore.

"It really hasn't hit me yet that I'm a sophomore," he said during organized team activities (OTAs). "Honestly, I'm approaching it like I'm a rookie."

Brown had a highly successful rookie season. Despite coming to the Ravens as an undrafted rookie from Georgia dealing with a knee injury, Brown made the 53-man roster, then became a 12-game starter.

He tied the Ravens' rookie record for touchdown receptions (Torrey Smith) with a team-high seven, including a game-winner in the snow against Minnesota. He hauled in 49 passes for 524 yards.

Still, there are improvements that can be made. Brown averaged just 10.7 yards per catch, which ranked sixth on the team below former Ravens pass catchers Tandon Doss and Ed Dickson. There were a few big plays that Brown left on the field.

Brown specifically pointed to wanting to improve his speed and footwork, but said he's really trying to boost everything. Head Coach John Harbaugh echoed that feeling.

"Marlon is young, just running routes, controlling his body, radius catches, blocking, you name it – he's got to get better," Harbaugh said. "He's one of those guys going into his second year, and they need to get better at everything."

Even though the 6-foot-4 Brown is a totally different kind of receiver than 5-foot-9 Steve Smith Sr., he's picking the veteran's brain. Brown has been in Smith Sr.'s back pocket throughout OTAs, frequently asking questions.

Brown's also being coached by new Wide Receivers Coach Bobby Engram and is learning new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's system. So he legitimately feels like he's starting over again.

"I'm still going out there trying to learn as much as I can like I'm a rookie again," Brown said. "I can get cut whenever. I've still got work to do."

Brown doesn't see a guaranteed roster spot, as crazy as that may sound. He's got more competition this year with Steve Smith Sr. joining the team, seventh-round draft pick Michael Campanaro and the return of last year's seventh-round pick, wide receiver Aaron Mellette.

As of now, Brown would seem to be the third or fourth receiver behind Steve Smith Sr., Torrey Smith and perhaps Jacoby Jones. But it's unclear exactly how much action Brown will get.

"I'm the same guy, man," he said. "I'm going to make a play when they call my name."

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