'Disappointing' Wide Receiver Competition
It was billed as the most exciting competition heading into training camp and the preseason, but now there's media concern over whether the Ravens have reliable wide receivers behind Steve Smith Sr.
The connection between Smith and quarterback Joe Flacco is alive and well.
That was on display Saturday night versus the Redskins when the two connected four times for 95 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown. That was all in less than a quarter of play.
Smith is clearly Flacco's favorite target at this point, and that's all well and good. The problem is that Flacco threw just as many times to the rest of the team for 42 yards.
"It still isn't clear whether the Ravens have enough on the outside beyond Smith Sr. to succeed," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"Usually you see a Ravens young wide receiver] or two really flash in [the] preseason. This group has done [little to nothing in [the] preseason."
Both Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown haven't made any critical errors this preseason. In limited snaps,* *they've combined for five catches for 78 yards and no touchdowns. It's been solid, but Aiken's most memorable play was getting up unscathed from a dangerous pile-drive tackle on his head Saturday, and Brown's most memorable was when Flacco overthrew the 6-foot-5 receiver by about five feet against the Eagles.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley called Aiken the "default" starter due to injuries.
Jeremy Butler has flashed, but is working on consistency. Darren Waller has been a pleasant surprise, and is hoping to become more than a situational red-zone target. Hensley called both "unpolished and inconsistent."
"The odds still appear stacked against" Daniel Brown and Tom Nelson to make the team, says CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown. DeAndre Carter, Aldrick Robinson and Trent Steelman were all cut Monday as part of the effort to trim the roster to 75.
The two receivers who have big-time potential are first-round rookie Breshad Perriman (knee) and second-year Michael Campanaro (soft-tissue issue). Both need to find a way to get healthy and stay healthy to make a difference, however. Perriman hasn't practiced since the first day of training camp, while Campanaro returned to practice Monday. Can he stay there?
"Safe to say the Ravens need Perriman back STAT," tweeted Russell Street Report's Brian Bower. "Outside of Smith Sr. no true threat as of yet."
Zrebiec believes the Raves will ultimately keep six or seven receivers on the roster, and that will be dictated by the injury outlook of Perriman and Campanaro. If the two are healthy, Zrebiec predicts these six will make the team: Smith, Aiken, Brown, Perriman, Campanaro and Waller.
If they keep seven, Zrebiec sees Butler as the final piece.
As for CSNBaltimore.com's Bo Smolka, he's concerned enough to think the Ravens should be looking outside the building for reinforcements.
Hensley: Smith Can't Lose Cool In Regular Season
Fans cheered 15-year veteran Smith when he took a playful bow following his ejection Saturday night.
Onlookers laughed when he took a picture with his son in an M&T Bank Stadium suite to watch the rest of the game.
But it was only considered a light moment because Smith wasn't going to play a lot more in an inconsequential preseason game anyway. It wouldn't be as funny if Smith were to engage in a fight again during the regular season.
"It was entertaining because it was a meaningless game," wrote Hensley. "But, in light of the NFL's emphasis on fighting, it's a reminder that Smith needs to keep his cool when the games count in 13 days because the Ravens can't afford to lose their one dependable receiver.
"Smith is an emotional player, and he feeds off that as well as his teammates. Given that this is his final season, Smith will play with more of an edge, if that's even possible. What Smith can't do is put his team in a bad position. Smith is a smart player and understands his role on the team. If he loses his temper again like he did on Saturday, the Ravens are the ones who end up losing a lot more."
Worried About Jernigan's Durability
The Ravens received good news Monday when they learned defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan's knee injury was "not overly serious." Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't want to put a timetable on his return, but Zrebiec said his status for the season-opener against the Broncos is in question.
Despite mostly optimistic outlook on Jernigan, media members are starting to question the second-year player's ability to stay healthy.
"The Ravens have to be worried about Timmy Jernigan's durability," wrote The Sun's Childs Walker.
The questions are starting because Jernigan missed a week of training camp and the preseason opener with a foot injury. He also sat out four games last season with a knee injury. He's the person mostly tasked with replacing Haloti Ngata.
Jernigan's absence puts pressure on third-round rookie Carl Davis, who is so far considered one of the steals of the draft.
"[Defensive Coordinator Dean]* *Pees hastened to add that the absences aren't Jernigan's fault," Walker wrote. "He's right. It feels almost unfair to talk about health as an issue at this point in Jernigan's career. It's just that you hope a likable young guy with that kind of talent gets a full chance to show it."
Will Hill's Contract Details Released
The details behind safety Will Hill's new contract have been released, and Hensley breaks it down below. His contract has a $7 million total payout.
"His $5.1 guaranteed money ranks 15th among safeties, and his $3.5 average per year is 28th," wrote Hensley. "It's a nice raise for Hill, who was scheduled to make $1.5 million as a restricted free agent."
Total payout: $7,006,045 million
Signing bonus: $3.5 million
2015 base salary: $660,000 (all guaranteed)
2016 base salary: $2.84 million ($1 million guaranteed)
playing no games !!! No chill #agent89 #stevesmithsr https://t.co/Zl4Qi9Vh74 pic.twitter.com/WFva8FkG8N — Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) August 31, 2015