Receivers not named Smith must grab larger role

Receivers not named Smith must grab larger role
October 22, 2013, 10:45 am
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Harbaugh: We need to get better and win games

As Joe Flacco marched the Ravens down the field on what proved to be their only touchdown drive at Heinz Field on Sunday, he provided a blueprint of what this Ravens offense might be over the second half of the season.

Flacco went 9-for-10 on the drive, with only one pass to No. 1 receiver Torrey Smith. Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones three times, and also threw to Tandon Doss, Vonta Leach, Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Dallas Clark, who caught the 1-yard touchdown pass.

As teams make shutting down Smith a top priority, Jones and Doss figure to be increasingly called upon.

After averaging 5.4 catches in the first five games, Smith totaled four grabs the past two weeks. Smith had just one catch against the Packers, and had three catches for 61 yards against Pittsburgh, with 41 yards coming on a deep ball into tight coverage. The Packers kept a safety in Smith's vicinity, and Smith can expect double-teams from other teams as well.

That should create opportunities for Jones, Doss and Marlon Brown, who had four catches for 22 yards against Pittsburgh.

Jones, in his second game back from a knee injury, finished with four catches for 32 yards against the Steelers. And the Ravens would have had another touchdown if Flacco hadn’t underthrown a deep ball intended for Jones, who was two steps behind everybody.

"He is such a threat to go downfield, and he’s becoming such a good wide receiver," Flacco said of Jones, who was targeted a team-high eight times at Heinz Field. "He has so much confidence. He helps in so many ways"

Doss continues to make the most of his second chance. Since being re-signed to the team, he has shown why he entered camp as a favorite to succeed Anquan Boldin as the Ravens No. 1 slot receiver. On the touchdown drive, he hauled in a 13-yard grab on a third-down crossing pattern, holding on despite taking a wicked shot from Troy Polamalu.

 “I felt like I got hit by a truck,” he said, “but I held the ball. That’s a good thing.”

Doss, who has already established career highs with 13 catches for 239 yards, said he's been taking extra reps to improve his chemistry and timing with Flacco. That is likely to be important with Smith drawing so much attention.

“You can’t just shut one person down,” Doss said. ”If you do that you’re gonna be in trouble, because we have so many targets.”