Cutting Drops Is 'Definitely An Emphasis'


Call it whatever: a pass breakup or a drop.

But a pass that hit the hands of a Ravens wide receiver and fell to the turf was the difference between Baltimore going to the Super Bowl and not.

During training camp this year, Head Coach John Harbaugh is trying to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"We were not as good of a catching team last year as we need to be," Harbaugh said. "It's definitely an emphasis."

Drops didn't just hurt the Ravens in last year's playoffs. They also burnt them in Pittsburgh the year before. Anquan Boldin uncharacteristically had a low sliding grab go off his chest, and the last pass of the season was muffed by T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

The Ravens dropped 31 passes last year, the seventh-most in the league.

If they want to become the top-5 offense they believe they can be this season, keeping ahold of passes will be an important factor.

"You know, that's the No. 1 job for a receiver – to catch the ball," Harbaugh said. "You can talk about speed, size and separation all you want. But, the bottom line is, can you catch? If you can't catch, in my mind you can't play receiver."

It was just one practice, but the Ravens wide receivers showed off some soft mitts in Thursday's first full-team session.

LaQuan Williams made a few tough snags, including a diving one on a lofted pass and another in which he had to twist his body in midair.

Torrey Smith, who struggled with drops in last year's training camp and preseason, plucked a few nice passes, including one lying out along the sideline.

Free-agent addition Jacoby Jones, who had a couple tough practices during Organized Team Activities and minicamp, hauled in a deep pass over his shoulder and held onto a couple short-range lasers.

Boldin is still the leader, and has some of the best hands on the unit. According to a study of the past three years, Boldin dropped the ball just 5.94 percent of the time, the 13th-best mark in the NFL.

"Anybody that touches the ball, anybody that catches the ball, that's our job, to hold on," Boldin said. "I think all of our guys are capable of catching the ball."

The main offender last year was not a wide receiver, but actually tight end Ed Dickson. He vowed to improve on his hands this offseason.

"[Harbaugh] is 100 percent right," Dickson said. "Balls shouldn't be on the ground. When you're playing at an elite level, balls aren't on the ground. We're world-class athletes. We need to work on our craft."

The Ravens may find more completions per pass attempt to their wideouts if second-year player Tandon Doss sees more time.

The fourth-round pick has one of the best sets of hands on the team, and is working on gaining separation. He didn't record any catches last year as he played behind Boldin, but will contend for the No. 3 and No. 4 wideout spots in camp.

When asked if he has the best hands on the team, Doss laughed and carefully chose his words.

"Since I'm still young I'll have to say Anquan," he said. "I've got to get some game catches in there."

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