Doss Battling To Remain Relevant, Gets Sorely Needed TD Catch
In two preseason games receiver Tandon Doss has seen three targets, and recorded one drop and one touchdown catch.
That low production isn't for a lack of playing time.
Doss saw 35 percent of the snaps in Tampa Bay, the most of all the main candidates competing for a starting role. The snap count hasn't been recorded yet for the Atlanta matchup, but he was on the field for nearly the entire second half.
"Tandon Doss is battling to remain relevant in the Ravens' wide receiver conversation," wrote Wilson.
Doss had a reception that was nullified by offsetting penalties (he grabbed a defender's facemask), then lost a fumble that was ruled a dropped pass after instant replay review.
His 5-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter saved an otherwise frustrating night and quiet start to the preseason.
The score was "sorely needed" for a receiver that "needs to start making plays," wrote Zrebiec.
Doss' single reception came from backup Tyrod Taylor, and Doss has yet to catch one from starting quarterback Joe Flacco. That fact doesn't have the third-year receiver feeling worried.
"I feel comfortable with Joe, but he hasn't been able to hit me yet, and he hasn't looked my way yet," Doss said after the game. "Once we get that going, we should be good."
The good news for Doss is that none of the top contenders for the No. 2 and No. 3 receiving spots have stuck out either. Jacoby Jones caught one pass for four yards. He was targeted on a Flacco interception. David Reed has looked good on special teams, but has been quiet on offense. Newly signed receiver Brandon Stokley was limited and didn't get a ball thrown his way.
Seventh-round rookie Aaron Mellette hauled in an impressive 40-yard touchdown Thursday night. He's had two touchdowns in as many games, but it's unknown if he's being seriously considered for a starting job.
"Flacco has talked a good game all spring and summer about trusting his young receivers, but you wonder how much of that is the sixth-year quarterback trying to be a good teammate at this point as he doesn't appear to trust anyone but Smith in the current batch of healthy receivers and tight ends," wrote WNST's Luke Jones.
Rice Visibly Frustrated In 'Shouting Outburst'
As several Ravens echoed after Thursday night's game, you can't panic over the starting offense's struggles in two preseason games.
But that doesn't mean it didn't get frustrating at times.
Ray Rice became visibly upset after he was dropped for a 5-yard loss when defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux blew past Michael Oher, Jah Reid and the rest of the Ravens offensive line nearly untouched.
The running back quickly jumped to his feet, then had a "shouting outburst."
"You can visibly see the frustration from the #Ravens offense," tweeted Brent Harris of Comcast SportsNet. "Rice clearly not happy after being dropped in backfield."
Added game analyst Qadry Ismail during the broadcast: "Ray got up a little salty right there, looking at Michael Oher."
There could have been a miscommunication on the offensive line and a missed assignment, so it may be wrong to pin the blown play on Oher. But Rice was clearly fed up with the offensive struggles.
Trotting to the sideline, Rice ripped his chin strap from his helmet and shouted at an unknown person on the sideline off camera.
"He's jawing on the sideline, which I understand," Ismail added. "You're a competitor and you want this thing to work and work well."
But "this thing" – the offense – wasn't working well.
Outside of the single-play, 77-yard touchdown by Torrey Smith, the Ravens' starting unit had five drives. They resulted in four punts and one interception.
With Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda on the bench (shoulder) and newcomer center A.Q. Shipley getting a shot at center, the offensive line was "getting thoroughly outplayed," said The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Rice had little running space. Prior to his outburst, he ran for 2 yards, caught a short pass for 1 yard, another run for 3 and one more for 5. On the night, he only gained 10 yards on eight carries (1.3 yards per carry).
That said, there's still plenty of time for the offense to get on the same page and into a rhythm.
After the game, Rice had already regained his composure and put his unit's "struggles" in perspective.
"You're calling them struggles – I'm calling them preseason work," he said. "That's what you work on in the preseason. If you don't have things to work on in the preseason, then obviously you're the greatest team in mankind. All 32 teams got to work."
Flacco Takes Lewis' Spot Running Out Of Tunnel
Thursday night marked the first time the Ravens ran out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium since future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis retired.
Lewis was always the last to be announced when the defense took the field, firing up more than 70,000 screaming fans.
The emotional sequence usually included pyrotechnics as the linebacker made his dramatic entrance. He performed his famous "Squirrel" dance, gyrating, eating grass and screaming all to the music of Nelly's "Hot in Herre."
But there was none of that last night.
Somebody had to take over Lewis' spot as the last player to be announced. While Lewis used to only be introduced with the defense, and the offense was announced last night, there was still a build up to the final player to walk through the smoke.
And that person was the Ravens' new leader: Joe Flacco.
Flacco got a huge round of applause by Ravens Nation, but the Super Bowl MVP didn't do any dancing. Nope, he did his standard run out to the field giving teammates high-fives.
That doesn't mean there wasn't any dancing. After all, the Ravens still have Jones, who made the finale of "Dancing With The Stars."
Although, it's unclear exactly what the dance was.
"Jacoby Jones just did some sort of dance," tweeted WNST's Luke Jones. "Not exactly sure what it was."
Stay tuned to see which defensive player is called out last, as the defense should get introduced next week.
J. McClain Takes Pay Cut
Injured linebacker Jameel McClain accepted a $1.5 million pay cut, reported The Sun's Aaron Wilson.
That's half of the $3 million salary he was scheduled to earn this season.
"This adjustment likely reflects the reality that McClain will start the season on the Reserve/PUP list, meaning that he will be out for at least the first six weeks of the season," wrote Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland. "It is also very possible that the team approached McClain with the option of taking a pay cut or facing being released."
The pay cut negotiation happened Wednesday, and it was processed Thursday. It includes a provision for McClain to potentially make back the $1.5 million by triggering playing time clauses, reports Wilson.
McClain suffered a spinal cord contusion last December against the Washington Redskins, and he has yet to be medically cleared to resume full football activity.
With his status in question, the Ravens were able to cut his salary cap figure from $4.2 million to $2.7 million and they are now $5.5 million under the cap, reports Wilson.
J. Smith Declines Media Interview
You can't blame him for not wanting to talk.
Quarterback Matt Ryan completed five passes over cornerback Jimmy Smith in the first 18 minutes of the matchup against the Falcons. Receiver Julio Jones caught three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown during a drive with Smith in coverage.
When media approached Smith after the game, he preferred to lay low.
"Jimmy Smith declined an interview request after a rough night where he got beaten repeatedly by Julio Jones, including a touchdown," tweeted Wilson.
- @A_Mellette3: Me and the big bro @tyrodtaylor after our td hook up #Ravens #MerleNation [Twitter/Instagram]
- @ryanmink: Think @TorreySmithWR can't be a No. 1 WR? Maybe you missed it because he just ran past you like Asante Samuel. [Twitter]
- @untouchablejay4: We always gotta do things the "Raven Way"! [Twitter]
- "Asa Jackson helped his cause for sticking around when he returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown, putting the Ravens ahead 27-23 with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter," wrote Jamison Hensley. "Jackson has been suspended for the first eight games this season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs." [ESPN]
- The Ravens reported a “smooth” implementationof the new NFL bag policy. "It went very well," Ravens Vice President of Stadium Operations Roy Sommerhof said. "We were pleased. I think the people that came to the game took notice and adhered to those policies. We didn't see many bags. We saw a lot of people, women specifically, bringing small clutch bags or clear bags into the stadium. We were very pleased that people got the message. It was fantastic. It's been very smooth so far." [The Baltimore Sun]
- @BaltimoreLuke WNST]: Vonta Leach was throwing warmup passes to the receivers and tight ends. [He's a southpaw and has a respectable arm. #Ravens [Twitter]
- @BaltimoreLuke: Billy "The Secret Weapon" Bajema picks up 18 yards on the pass from Flacco. It's the second-longest play of the night for the #Ravens.
- @RavensInsider: Wide receiver Marlon Brown was icing his kneeafter the game. He didn't play tonight, but predicted he'll return to practice this weekend [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: X-rays negative for left wrist injury, but will undergo MRI on Friday after getting injured on kickoff return [Twitter]
- @CliftonBrownCSN: Harbaugh said he never consideredplaying Joe Flacco in the second half. "The risk-reward there wouldn't be worth it." #RavensTalk [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: Rookie safety Matt Elam had an impressive night of tackling, slammed Steven Jackson to the ground in open field. Finished with six tackles. [Twitter]
- @abrown_jr: 1st time at M&T Stadium, the atmosphere and fans were amazing - there's something about that PURPLE! #Ravens #K-state [Twitter]
- @ryanmink: Did everyone know Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was originally drafted by the Orioles in the 41st round of 2007 draft? [Twitter]