Young corps of receivers catch­ing on

Tal­ented group has given Jack­son mar­gin for er­ror

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jonas Shaffer

Ravens quar­ter­back La­mar Jack­son has a sim­ple process for de­vel­op­ing chem­istry in the pass­ing game.

“Work, work and more work,” he said Tues­day, af­ter the last prac­tice of train­ing camp. “That’s all, just get­ting the ball to my receivers, like I said, try­ing to be ac­cu­rate, throw it at their face masks, not try­ing to throw it be­hind them. If I do, you’ll no­tice. I’ll al­ways be, like, slap­ping my hands like, ‘I have to get it right.’ ”

Even when Jack­son hasn’t been pre­cise, a sur­pris­ing group has given the Ravens’ three healthy quar­ter­backs mar­gin for er­ror: the team’s young receivers.

While rookie Miles Boykin has been the break­out star at the po­si­tion and first-round pick Mar­quise “Hol­ly­wood” Brown con­tin­ues to be eased into the pic­ture af­ter off­sea­son surgery, there are bright spots fur­ther down the depth chart. Sec­ond-year re­ceiver Jaleel Scott and un­drafted free agent An­toine Wesley re­main in a heated bat­tle for a po­ten­tial ros­ter spot. Sean Mod­ster has qui­etly pro­duced through­out camp in sec­ond- and third-team work. And Jaylen Smith, an­other un­drafted rookie, had maybe the big­gest play of the Ravens’ joint prac­tices against the Jack­sonville Jaguars last week.

De­pend­ing on the health of Seth Roberts and Brown in late Au­gust, a few could make the sea­son-open­ing 53-man ros­ter. It’s also pos­si­ble that none will. But all are prac­tice squad can­di­dates, an en­cour­ag­ing prospect as the Ravens look to build their of­fen­sive depth.

“A lot of po­ten­tial,” Jack­son said. “The young guys are show­ing up, show­ing off. Each and ev­ery day, they step it up. You never know what one of them is go­ing to do each and ev­ery day. All the guys are do­ing great right now.”

On Tues­day, it was Wesley who pro­vided a few sur­prises. While the for­mer Texas Tech star lacks ideal strength for a 6-foot-4 pos­ses­sion re­ceiver, he con­tin­ues to float above de­fend­ers on jump balls. One such victim early in prac­tice was safety Earl Thomas III, who lost out on a lob dur­ing one-on-one work. He could only look on as Wesley spun the ball and clapped his hands in cel­e­bra­tion.

“Two things for the wide receivers: They’ve showed us that they can go up and make catches on con­tested balls, and they’ve shown us they’ll block,” coach John Har­baugh said. “Those are two pretty big deals for us.”

Ex­tra points

Eleven play­ers missed Tues­day’s prac­tice: Roberts; of­fen­sive line­men Mar­shal Yanda, Greg Se­nat and Randin Cre­cil­ius; lineback­ers Per­nell McPhee, Matthew Judon and Mike On­uoha (wrist); and cor­ner­backs Jimmy Smith, An­thony Averett, Tavon Young and Iman Mar­shall. In ad­di­tion to Brown, cor­ner­back Mau­rice Canady re­turned af­ter miss­ing Mon­day’s prac­tice.

Har­baugh said Smith, who left mid­way through Mon­day’s ses­sion, was rest­ing. He said other play­ers “need to get some tests and things like that.”

“It’s just the mid­dle of train­ing camp right now,” he said.” There are vary­ing things with vary­ing guys.”

Safety Tony Jef­fer­son had the first of the de­fense’s three in­ter­cep­tions Mon­day, com­ing down with a long pass from Jack­son in­tended for wide re­ceiver Michael Floyd. Safety Bryn­den Traw­ick had the sec­ond and most im­pres­sive pick when he ripped Joe Cal­la­han’s pass away from tight end Charles Scarff’s hands near the side­line. Cor­ner­back Mar­lon Humphrey had his third goal-line in­ter­cep­tion in as many days, rob­bing Trace McSor­ley as he looked to wide re­ceiver Chris Moore.

Other than a brief scuf­fle be­tween tight end Nick Boyle and safety Chuck Clark near the goal line, the Ravens en­joyed an­other rel­a­tively peace­ful day. The cooler tem­per­a­tures prob­a­bly helped. “They’re get­ting sick of each other,” Har­baugh said, laugh­ing.

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