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Ravens Vertical Passing May Get Even More Dangerous


The sight of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco unleashing a bomb to a streaking receiver was a familiar one in 2012.

Remember the laser to Torrey Smith in the AFC divisional round? The "Mile High Miracle?" The rainbow to Jacoby Jones in Super Bowl XLVII?

There could be even more of those moments in 2013.

Combine Flacco's strong arm and general improvement with a faster wide receiver corps, and the Ravens offense has even more potential to be vertically dangerous.

Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell was asked how he thinks defenses will approach the Ravens this season now that Anquan Boldin is gone.

"I know one thing: They will look at us and see that we have some guys that can still get down the field and go," Caldwell said.

"We have an opportunity to spread it around to some guys that can run. There will be a number of guys that I think will be able to step up and make a few more plays for us."

While an excellent receiver at hauling in passes with defenders draped on him, Boldin was never known for speed. With him in San Francisco, the Ravens' wide receiver corps looks to be faster.

The fleet-footed Smith is in position to be Baltimore's top receiver. As Caldwell said, "he's a big play waiting to happen on every snap." Speedy Jones is also in position to see more opportunities on offense.

Two other top contenders are Tandon Doss, who is more of a possession receiver like Boldin but still faster, and Deonte Thompson, who claims he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.2 seconds. He may be the fastest player on the team. Caldwell also complimented Thompson on his route-running abilities.

"I think [opponents] look at every guy according to his strengths. Our guys with their strengths, they do have speed," Caldwell said.

In order to capitalize on that speed, a team has to have a quarterback with the arm to get it there.

"Often times you may find guys that can stretch the field, but guys can't get it to them consistently," Caldwell said. "Joe can."

Flacco has long been known for his cannon, and last year his 40 completions of 25 yards or more were tied for second with Denver's Peyton Manning, only trailing New Orleans' Drew Brees.

But there's still improvements that can be made on his end too. Flacco, at times, overthrew his deep receiver, and that will be something he again works on this offseason. Caldwell said he's excited that Flacco is still "getting better each and every day."

So how does this impact opposing defenses? Caldwell finally summed it up.

"You have to be making certain that your defense has a top on it, for a lack of a better term – make certain that they are deep enough, because of the fact that Torrey and Jacoby and Deonte and some of those guys can get down and get behind you in a hurry," Caldwell said.

"A quarterback like Joe can fire it in very, very tight windows, but he can [also] launch it down the field. He really has every throw, to be honest with you."

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