EARLY BIRD: Will Pats smallish receiver cause big problems?

EARLY BIRD: Will Pats smallish receiver cause big problems?
December 21, 2013, 7:00 am
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Ravens prepare for showdown with Patriots


EARLY BIRD: Saturday’s wakeup call with the Ravens.

Today’s question: Will the Patriots’ smallish receivers cause big problems for the Ravens?

Further review: The Ravens face a far different challenge than Monday night, when 6-foot-5 Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was a focal point of their concern. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are both under six feet, but they change directions quickly and run precise patterns catching pinpoint throws from Tom Brady. Amendola and Edelman both had more than 100 yards receiving against the Dolphins last weekend.

Ravens cornerbacks Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, and Corey Graham will try to get physical with the Patriots’ receivers, but that is easier said than done.

“They do such a great job keeping them off the ball and then stacking the receivers and getting in formations that you can’t get your hands on them,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees. “They are smart. The playbook in New England is huge, and that is why every week, everybody says they do something different. Not really. It’s in their playbook. They aren’t dreaming that stuff up that week. They are going to this section of the playbook, running the same stuff, but from a different look or different formation.”

The Patriots did not beat the Dolphins, but Amendola (10 catches, 131 yards) and Edelman (13 catches, 139 yards, one touchdown) made plays. The Ravens hope to do a better job of containing Amendola and Edelman Sunday.

Morning thought: Ravens coach John Harbaugh, talking about Ray Rice saying he might retire at age 30. “He won’t be 30 before Sunday, will he?” Rice is 26.

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