When the Ravens opened training camp last month, third-year receiver Tandon Doss was one of the players in the spotlight. The Ravens looked to Doss as someone who could step up in the passing game with Anquan Boldin now in San Francisco.
Doss has shown flashes in training camp, but he was quiet in last week's preseason opener in Tampa, and now the Ravens have added veteran Brandon Stokley to the receiver mix. Stokley's arrival will make a tighter competition for a starting job, but Doss has three weeks left in the preseason to show he's up to the task.
"They need that go-to guy," Doss said after Sunday's practice. "Hopefully me and Joe start getting on the same page because I've been waiting for the opportunity forever, and hopefully I can take advantage of it."
The Ravens signed Stokley as a proven receiver with good hands who can work the middle of the field and move the chains. Stokley is a slot receiver, which is also where Doss has worked during camp.
The two will compete for playing time, but Doss is also hoping to pick up some tips from the 14-year veteran.
"It's always great to have veteran leadership, especially during grind time during this camp," Doss said. "He can see a fresh perspective on some of the plays and what he's seeing on some of his routes, and how he gets open, so it's going to be good to add to our game."
The biggest need for the Ravens in the passing game is players who can work the middle of the field. The two most productive players over the middle last year, Boldin and tight end Dennis Pitta, both won't suit up for the Ravens this season. And tight end Ed Dickson is currently on the shelf with a hamstring injury.
Those losses have Doss working as a slot receiver inside Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, but he doesn't see himself solely as a move-the-chains kind of receiver.
"I hate being labeled as a slot receiver, because I'm not," Doss said. "I'm not as fast as Torrey, but I can run. But I can do a variety of things in my game, and I'll be wherever they need me, whether it's inside or outside. If I have to work then the middle, then I have to work the middle. I don't mind doing anything."
In addition to Doss and Stokley, the Ravens are also giving Deonte Thompson and David Reed reps as the inside receiver. Thompson is currently sidelined with a sprained foot and Reed just returned from a groin injury.
All of those players will compete for reps, and the position is still very much up for grabs with three weeks left before the regular season.
"There's going to be a real strong competition in that third down, move-the-chains-type underneath position," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Sunday. "And it's going to be really fun to see how it plays out."