Maclin Picked as AFC North's Best Newcomer and X-Factor
The buzz around wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is starting to grow.
Baltimore signed the veteran pass catcher this offseason with the hope that he'd bring a dynamic element to the offense, and observers believe that's exactly what he'll do.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote that Maclin will be the best newcomer in the AFC North, even more than Cleveland's new defensive end and No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett.
"With Steve Smith Sr. retired and Dennis Pitta gone after re-injuring his hip, Maclin will get a chance to be a difference-maker in the AFC North," Hensley wrote. "He's the Ravens' most complete receiver. He's a smooth route runner with great hands."
Maclin joins speedsters Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman as the top targets for quarterback Joe Flacco, and our John Eisenberg wrote yesterday about how Maclin's arrival could go a long way in helping Perriman.
Hensley believes Maclin will take over as Baltimore's No. 1 target, and that he's poised to get back to the big numbers he posted earlier in his career.
"Maclin is coming off the worst season of his career after being limited to 12 games because of a groin injury. But in his previous two full seasons (2014-2015), he was one of three NFL receivers to produce more than 170 catches, 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns. The others were Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.," he wrote.
Former New England Patriots linebacker and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest sees the same potential in Maclin and picked him as the division's greatest "X-factor."
"When Steve Smith decided to retire, he said they needed a route runner, somebody that is polished, somebody that can run every single route on the route tree," McGinest said. "[Maclin] is that."
Maclin's ability to move the chains and work the underneath routes will free up Wallace and Perriman to do what they do best and go deep. But McGinest also made sure to remind everyone that teams shouldn't mistake Maclin as a receiver who has lost a step.
"Just because you're a route runner doesn't mean you're slow. He is still fast. He can still take the top off a defense," McGinest said. "I would say in that division, somebody for Flacco to throw the ball on every single route, somebody you can line up at every single position, Jeremy Maclin is the X-factor."
And if you missed it yesterday, Maclin seems to be settling into his new city just fine, and is enjoying the spoils of his free crab cakes for life offer.
Mornhinweg Works With Montana High School Quarterbacks
Even during vacation, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can't get away from football.
Mornhinweg returned to his college town of Missoula, Montana, and spent Tuesday working with a group of high school quarterbacks. He hosted the "Camp Marty Quarterback School," and passed along some of the lessons he's learned during his 24 years in the NFL.
"How often do you get to do a job that you love?" Mornhinweg told Kyle Houghtaling of The Missoulian. "I figure I'd try to give back in some small way, and I've wanted to do something like this for dozens of years."
Mornhinweg ran the group through a series of drills and taught them the basics of reading defenses. The one-day camp was a chance to share his football knowledge, and also re-connect with some of his old college teammates that still live in the area.
"I have some ex-teammates here, that's what I love," Mornhinweg said. "I love to be able to come back, have a night or two with the guys, and get to see them."
Punter Kenny Allen Gets Valuable Training
Few players on the Ravens are more secure in their starting spot than punter Sam Koch. The veteran has been one of the league's premier punters and he still has three years left on his contract.
But the fact that Koch is entrenched as Baltimore's punter didn't deter undrafted rookie Kenny Allen from signing with the Ravens. In fact, it attracted him to Baltimore.
"You look at the track record they have for special teams here, the coaches they have, the guys they have here, is there a better staff and better group in the country?" he told The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker. "Being able to learn from those guys and take those types of things in, it's the best thing I could ask for."
Former Ravens kickers have a strong track record of landing on other teams after working on Baltimore's unit for the summer. Kicker Wil Lutz signed with the Saints last year, and Steven Hauschka and Graham Gano also spent time in Baltimore early in their careers.
Allen could be the next in that line.
"All involved hope Allen will end up starting somewhere and become another cog in the Ravens' extended special teams machine," Walker wrote.