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How Would Jacoby Jones' Return Affect Ravens?


A week after playing with just three wide receivers, the Ravens could suddenly be crowded at the position.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones is making progress, and could return for the first time since Week 1 this Sunday against Green Bay.

So what effect will he have when he comes back?

"Any time you get a guy like Jacoby back, if he's healthy, it's definitely going to help your game out a little bit just because of the speed he has and the problems he creates for defenses just because of that, and stretching the field and all that stuff," quarterback Joe Flacco said.

Jones' presence on the field makes safeties careful not to give him too much freedom to outrun cornerbacks, and it could open up more plays to be made in the middle of the field, particularly by the tight ends.

Jones finished last season showing his value as a deep-ball playmaker. He caught* *a 70-yard touchdown in the Denver divisional playoff and a 56-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII.

As the Ravens' No. 2 receiver, Jones started off this season hot. He was targeted by four passes and made three catches for 24 yards in the first half in Denver before safety Bryden Trawick ran into him while Jones was trying to field a punt.

That's when rookie free agent Marlon Brown got his chance. Brown has 14 catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns, and showed his potential as a big-bodied wideout who can play outside or in the slot. He has good chemistry with Flacco.

Then Brown sat out last week in Miami, opening the door for Tandon Doss. Doss had a big day with three catches for 58 yards, including a crucial 40-yarder.

A thigh injury to veteran Brandon Stokley that knocked him out of the past two games created an opportunity for Deonte Thompson, who missed almost the entire preseason and first three regular-season games with a sprained foot. Thompson (six catches for 61 yards) has added explosiveness and solid route running in the slot to the Ravens offense.

So now who plays and where with Jones back?

"Everybody is different and brings something different to the table," Brown said. "When everybody is back it's going to be a nice rotation for us. Everybody is going to be fresh and ready to play."

The Ravens went into training camp with a stable full of young, talented receivers and are now seeing the fruits of that work pay off. They've all played significant minutes during the regular season due to injuries, which benefits them going forward.

"I think it's going to help us out in the long-run that we've had to lean on some guys that we didn't anticipate leaning on because now they have some experience, and they have some confidence in themselves," Flacco said.

To this point, the Ravens' passing offense has been inconsistent with Torrey Smith for the most part carrying the wide receivers. The Ravens are averaging 253 passing yards per game, ranked 14th in the NFL.

However, the Packers defense's weakness is against the pass, where they are ranked 26th in the NFL (288.8 yards per game). With top pass rusher Clay Matthews (thumb) out, Flacco may have more time.

And he could be looking at a full arsenal of wide receivers for the first time this year.

"Even if it doesn't show up consistently on Sundays that we've gotten better each week, we are," Flacco said. "And we're going to get healthier. I think a lot of things are going to come together at one time."

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