The Ravens had 15 different players catch a pass when they defeated the Washington Redskins, 23-0, last week.
While it is unrealistic for that to happen in a regular-season game, Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron* *said he wants to spread the ball around as much as he can in the preseason, when rosters are at their 80-man limit and there are more potential targets.
And with Demetrius Williams (hamstring), Mark Clayton (hamstring) and Yamon Figurs (foot) all missing recent practices due to injuries, the time to find another receiver who can step up couldn't be better.
Cameron sees the in-game allocation as a direct result of how hard the receivers are working in practice.
"I think, if a guy's going to work hard, he really deserves the opportunity to touch the football, whether he's a receiver, or he's a running back," Cameron said Tuesday at training camp. "I think we got it to all but three guys one way or the other. We'll try to do that in every game in the preseason.
"Obviously, it helps in evaluation, but also, it's just a reward."
Because the Ravens have been limited at wideout – Biren Ealy (undisclosed) also did not practice Tuesday – there have definitely been enough footballs to go around, and the receivers who are jockeying for position on the depth chart are thankful.
"I'm getting more opportunities," said first-year player Jayson Foster. "I'm hopefully getting better, and I think I am. The more I play and the more experience I get, the better I can become."
Foster is an example of a player who especially needs the reps.
A former quarterback at Georgia Southern – where he won the 2007 Walter Payton Award for the best offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision – Foster is still developing as a receiver.
He only began playing the position full-time for a year in practice squad stints with the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos.
"I went from receiver to quarterback and back again in high school and college," the 5-foot-7, 175-pound speedster said. "When I got to Miami, it was about learning route combinations, and the terms were a little different. It's basically been a year since I've been doing this all the time."
Foster is one of the prospects that is, in fact, developing. He set up a touchdown against the Redskins with a short reception that he turned into a 64-yard gain.
"You saw [him] the other night," said Cameron. "He made some plays yesterday [in practice]; he made some more this morning. Obviously, he was a great college player, and you never know.
"What his role could and will be, we're way too early to tell that. But there's no doubt that this guy – he's just a hard-working, solid football player."
Foster is only one example of a player trying to stand out now when they have the chance. Ernie Wheelwright has made some tough catches lately, Justin Harper has been sporadic but shown flashes of brilliance, and Kelley Washington continues to stand out in his expanded role.
Later, he snatched a bullet from Flacco over the middle before he was crunched between two defenders for a first down.
"That's just something that I've continued to work on," Washington said. "It's important for me to get some camaraderie with Joe and [make sure] the receivers are on the same page. It's important to myself, being new to the team and seeing what he expects on a daily basis."
Williams could be back on the field any day now, and Figurs is experiencing what head coach John Harbaugh cited as muscle cramps in his surgically-repaired foot. Clayton will likely miss a "few preseason games" because of his hamstring issue.
In the meantime, the Ravens are going to keep distributing the ball in practice to see who gets the ball in games.
"If a guy is eligible, then let's get him the ball and see what he can do with it and let him have some fun," said Cameron. "That really is what we believe. We believe the game should be fun, and guys like the football. There's only one of them. That was the plan."