The Ravens are going to have some difficult decisions to make at wide receiver.
A week after rookie Aaron Mellette caught his second touchdown in as many weeks, fellow rookie wideout Marlon Brown had his coming out party Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers.
The undrafted rookie free agent caught a team-high four passes for 59 yards, including an impressive 24-yard touchdown snag with a cornerback draped over him and a safety bearing down.
After running with the first-team offense in practice for the first time this week, Brown showed he can hang in a game with the starters too.
"It was a good game," Brown said. "I made some big catches. I was so thankful to have the opportunity to play with the ones today."
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Brown has gradually worked his way up the depth chart throughout training camp as he's gotten healthier and stood out in his limited opportunities.
Brown was a big-time recruit who went to SEC powerhouse Georgia, but didn't live up to expectations. In his first three years, he caught only 28 passes. He started taking off in his senior season, and had 27 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns in eight games. Then he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in November, knocking him out of draft consideration.
The Ravens saw potential, however.
"We recruited him like crazy," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "When we first saw him on tape, I saw him, he jumped off the tape."
Brown first wanted to come to Baltimore. But when his agent said the Houston Texans also had interest, Brown looked at their depth chart and thought he had a better chance to make the team there. He flew to Texas, only to find out they weren't going to give him a signing bonus and wouldn't ink him until he was fully healthy in August.
"I didn't like the miscommunication and I didn't want to be there anymore," Brown said.
Harbaugh called him five minutes after leaving Houston, and told Brown that he didn't have anything to worry about. Baltimore had a spot for him.
Brown rehabbed throughout the summer and got back on the field in early August. Since then, he's put his great size, strong hands and powerful running after the catch on display. He now leads the Ravens wide receivers with six catches this preseason and is second in yardage (90), despite not playing in the second game against Atlanta.
Brown has put himself into consideration to make the 53-man roster.
The Ravens will likely keep six, or at most seven, wide receivers on the team. Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Brandon Stokley look to be locks. That leaves three, or perhaps four, more spots with Deonte Thompson, Tandon Doss, Mellette, Brown, LaQuan Williams and Tommy Streeter in contention.
"If I keep playing the way I'm playing, I think I have a good chance to make the team," Brown said. "I like the competition, because if they're playing at a high level, I've got to play at a higher level."