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DeSean Jackson Feels Ready, Other Targets Stepping Up

WR DeSean Jackson
WR DeSean Jackson

With Rashod Bateman out of action, the Ravens will look toward other playmakers to step forward.

DeSean Jackson could make his season debut when the Ravens face the Saints on Monday Night Football in Week 9. His presence would give Baltimore another weapon with the potential to provide a midseason spark.

There's no questioning Jackson's career resume as a deep threat with 58 touchdowns and a career average of 17.6 yards per catch. After watching him work out since the Ravens signed him in mid-October, Head Coach John Harbaugh still sees juice in Jackson.

"I'll just preface it by saying he is [almost] 36 years old, but he's a good-looking 36 – I can tell you that," Harbaugh said Monday. "He looks great. And I say that from the standpoint of, he's running around really well. You guys have seen him at practice. I think he probably feels like he's ready to go, and if he is, he could be out there."

Harbaugh said Bateman (15 catches, 285 yards, two touchdowns) will miss a few weeks with his foot injury, and he leads the team averaging 19.0 yards per catch. However, the Ravens still have one of the NFL's fastest players at wide receiver in Devin Duvernay, an even if Jackson doesn't play a heavy load of offensive snaps, he's always a threat to take the top off the defense.

"We'd love to see him make some big plays," Harbaugh said." That would be the hope for DeSean. He can do all the other things too, but he still can run."

The Ravens didn't flinch without Bateman and All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews (shoulder) in the second half of their Week 8 victory over the Buccaneers. Three other targets delivered their best game of the season – wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (six catches, 64 yards), rookie tight end Isaiah Likely (six catches, 77 yards, one touchdown), and wide receiver James Proche II (three catches, 24 yards). Robinson made a terrific run-after-catch for a 16-yard gain and embraced playing a larger role in the offense with Andrews and Bateman sidelined.

"You've got to step and make a play," Robinson said. "Those guys usually do make a lot of out plays. We've still got other guys who can make plays, and we were able to step up and make some."

Having a 10-day break between games gives Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman even more opportunity to tweak the game plan and add wrinkles designed to get multiple weapons involved. The victory over Tampa was a breakout game for Likely, and the Ravens could rely on more multiple tight end that feature Andrews and Likely on the field together. Proche II played 48 snaps against Tampa Bay, his most extensive action by far this season. Meanwhile, Duvernay's elite speed continues to make him a weapon as a receiver, returner and runner on jet sweeps.

"Those are things he did in college," Harbaugh said. "He's that kind of a guy. You can put the ball in his hands; he can run routes underneath; he can run deep crossers; he can go deep; return man. He's been very valuable."

Duvernay's multiple skill set may be relied upon more in red zone situations. His touchdown on against the Buccaneers came on a 15-yard jet sweep when he simply outran pursuit into the end zone.

After Marquise Brown was traded on draft night, the Ravens' receiving corps entered the season looking to silence doubters. While the Ravens will miss Bateman, they have momentum riding a two-game winning streak for the first time this season. After seeing so many players step up in Tampa Bay, Lamar Jackson said he feels the Ravens have the weapons to keep their offense rolling.

"I feel like the whole offense is hungry," Jackson said." [Our] main guys went down, and everyone stepped up. James, 'D-Rob', 'Like' [Isaiah Likely].

"A lot of people don't know about our guys, but I feel like we do. We do a lot in practice, and those guys show it each and every day."

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