The decisions at wide receiver facing Head Coach John Harbaugh and General Manager Ozzie Newsome did not get any easier Thursday night.
Tandon Doss, Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette all finished the preseason on high notes, making strong cases for roster spots before the Ravens trim the team to 53 players.
"I thought the wide receivers all played pretty well," Harbaugh said. "Tandon obviously played well, Aaron played well, Marlon played well, LaQuan [Williams] played well. They all played well. It's a good group."
Doss, Brown and Mellette all played the entire game and were integral parts of the offense during the 24-21 loss to the Rams. With the starters resting, the young receivers each had their opportunity to cement a roster spot with a strong performance.
The only problem – and it's a good problem to have – is that all three receivers played arguably their best games to conclude the preseason.
Brown led the group with 79 receiving yards on four catches, including a 50-yard touchdown. Doss had five catches for 75 yards and Mellette added five grabs for 70 yards.
"Everybody is good," Brown said. "If they're playing at this level, you have to play at the same level or higher to make an impact on the team and get a spot. Everybody is good, so we'll just see what happens when everything unfolds."
The big night was a rebound for Doss, who struggled through the first three games of the preseason. He entered training camp as the top slot receiver, but midway through camp the Ravens brought in veteran Brandon Stokley and Doss' reps with the starters declined.
He was seldom targeted in the preseason and had two catches for 10 yards before the finale. Doss was a frequent target for quarterback Caleb Hanie against St. Louis, and he took advantage of the opportunities to work the middle of the field for big gains.
"I finally got some balls thrown my way and was able to get into a routine, and it felt good for the first time," Doss said. "You always want to end on a good note. But you got to just keep battling through things and you're not going to have a perfect game every game."
Brown and Mellette have emerged in recent weeks, as they both finished the preseason with two touchdown catches. They entered training camp as rookies at the bottom of the depth chart, but they have worked with the starters in recent weeks and not been intimidated by the NFL stage.
They attacked the Rams in different ways. Mellette worked the sidelines to move the chains during two-minute drills, while Brown caught his passes over the middle of the field.
Now both hope they have built strong enough resumes to keep them in Baltimore.
"At the end of the day I can't control who makes the decisions about that, but I just feel like I went out there and just made plays, and just made an impact," Brown* *said. "So hopefully I get [a roster spot]."
The Ravens could begin the process of cutting players tomorrow, which is a tense time around the Under Armour Performance Center.
"You can let it get to you, sitting around waiting," Mellette said. "But you just go around with the mentality that you're on the team, and when you walk in you just hope that if they call you, then they call you. It's a business. It's nothing personal.
"No nerves about it. I feel like I did everything that I could over the last four preseason games, and if it's not enough, then hopefully I'll get a shot somewhere else."
In the past, the Ravens have traditionally kept six receivers on the roster. They currently have eight receivers on the 75-man squad, and they have not specified how many they plan to keep this season.
Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Stokley appear to be locks, which leaves Doss, Mellette, Brown, Williams and Deonte Thompson vying for the last few spots. Williams did not register a catch in the finale and was used sparingly on offense, and Thompson has been sidelined since the opener with a foot injury.
Thompson's health and the ability for the wideouts to play special teams will all be factors the Ravens take into account when building the final roster over the next 24 hours.
The young players have shown potential during the preseason, giving the Ravens tough decisions ahead of them.
"It's going to be peaceful and calm for me personally," Brown said. "I feel like I had a pretty good camp, had a couple good preseason games, so whatever happens, happens. It's not in my hands anymore. It's in God's hands."