One of the recurring themes of the Ravens offseason was that they seemed determined to get younger and faster. But when they had a pressing need for another dependable receiver, they busted that trend and reached out to 37-year-old Brandon Stokley.
Stokley -- who broke into the NFL with the Ravens when his rookie teammate Marlon Brown was 8 years old, and who is the Ravens oldest player by three years -- isn't going to be a 1,000-yard, 100-reception player, and no one is expecting him to be.
But against Cleveland, Stokley showed that, in his 15th NFL season, he can still serve as a reliable chain-mover. That is something the Ravens found themselves sorely lacking after Anquan Boldin was traded and Dennis Pitta was injured.
Against the Browns, Stokley had four catches for 36 yards. All four of his catches came on third down, and three of them resulted in first downs.
"We have high hopes for Brandon as a third-down chain mover," Harbaugh said on Monday. "He was that (Sunday). ... He made some huge plays for us."
The Ravens were 1-for-7 on third down in the first half against Cleveland, one major reason they trailed 6-0 at halftime.
But they went 7-for-9 on third down in the second half. On the Ravens first drive of the second half, Stokley made an 11-yard catch on third-and-8, giving the Ravens a first down at the Browns' 13-yard line. They scored two plays later. The Ravens other scoring drive included a 16-yard catch by Stokley on third-and-10.
Through two games, Stokley has eight catches for 70 yards.
Can Stokley's 37-year-old body hold up all season? Last year with Denver, Stokley played 15 games, with 45 catches for 544 yards and five touchdowns. He also had a touchdown in that epic double-overtime playoff game won by the Ravens.
With Deonte Thompson (ankle) and Jacoby Jones (knee) still sidelined, the Ravens are down to just four healthy receivers. So Stokley, who played 19 snaps against Cleveland, figures to continue to work in the Ravens receiver rotation in the slot.
"I'm here to try to help this team win games," Stokley said after the Cleveland game. "That's what my role is, and anything that I can do to do that, that's what I'm here for."