As the Ravens' passing offense looks to break loose in the second half of the season, one prime candidate is a player who already began to heat up.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin went into the bye with his biggest game of the year, and comes out of it as a healthier version of the playmaker Ravens fans have seen in spurts so far.
Last season was a tough one for Maclin. He set career lows in receptions (44), receiving yards (536) and touchdowns (two), all while dealing with various nagging injuries. He was subsequently released by the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason.
Maclin's arrival in Baltimore was a welcomed change of scenery, but he's once again dealt with injuries and is finding his niche in the offense. With 27 catches for 310 yards and three touchdowns in seven games played, he's on pace for similar numbers to last year.
Nobody in the Ravens' passing attack has had big-time production, and Maclin still leads the Ravens in receiving yards and touchdowns.
"My job is to be accountable, be reliable when the ball comes my way," Maclin said. "As a competitor, you want to go out there and make plays every play. In reality, that's not possible. So you just go out there and be reliable."
Like last year, Maclin has dealt with hand and shoulder injuries. The injured shoulder sidelined him for two games – both losses – against the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
"It's something that I'm going to play through," he said. "I'm just excited to be able to put the jersey on again on Sunday."
Maclin had his highest production of the year in Tennessee before the bye, posting season highs in catches (eight) and receiving yards (98). The Ravens haven't had a lot of success in the 10- to 19-yard range in the passing game, but Maclin started to change that in Tennessee. He caught passes of 19, 15, 10, 11, 17 and 15 yards.
Maclin, who has had much success working the middle of the field during his career, found soft spots in coverage and made tough catches to move the chains. The Ravens' passing game needs more big strikes, but it would also greatly benefit from a better intermediate attack. Maclin can help in both regards.
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said attacking the intermediate routes is a "point of emphasis."
"We've been pretty good at quick game and stuff like that," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "In order to get some chunks, we're going to have to be better at the intermediate stuff, and then hopefully, get some over the top."
Maclin has had two of the Ravens' more impressive offensive touchdowns of the year.
He broke the game open in Cincinnati in Week 1 with a slant that he took 48 yards to the end zone without being touched. His 34-yard touchdown grab at the start of the Thursday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins was a work of art and kicked off a rout.
"I'm not a numbers guy," Maclin said. "If it means we're winning more games and they need me to be the guy, that's what it is. I'm just going to do whatever I can to help the team win."