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In the aftermath of Friday’s 31-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the battle for the Ravens’ third receiver spot behind Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans got decidedly murkier.
As David Reed’s three catches for a team-leading 63 yards attest, it’s not a mere two-horse race between rookies Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss.
In fact, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron believes Reed is ahead of the two draft picks with regards to development.
“I would say he’s ahead,” Cameron said of Reed, noting his season-ending wrist injury in 2010. “Last year, right when we all got excited about him, he gets hurt. … Now, he’s healthy. There’s no question he’s ahead of those guys in the sense that he’s not hearing some of this [offense] for the first time.
“He’s got a good feel for NFL defenses. He knows what the expectation is. He’s been nothing but a plus, not only this year so far.”
However the depth chart shakes out will likely be tightly contested.
It was two weeks ago when Smith was in line to become the Ravens’ No. 2 after Derrick Mason signed with the New York Jets, getting the lion’s share of reps opposite Boldin.
But when the Ravens traded a 2010 draft pick to the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 12, the second-rounder from Maryland had some of that pressure lifted.
In the Ravens’ two preseason contests, Smith only has one reception for two yards.
Meanwhile, Doss, a fourth-round selection, steadily improved throughout training camp. He even boasted three catches in the presseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
In practices, Smith typically takes the field as the No. 3 receiver, while Doss is largely the fourth.
With Reed now making noise, things are only heating up for the young prospects.
“We’ve got a lot of great receivers,” Reed said. “I still got to compete for a job just like the rest of those guys, compete week in and week out in practice and games.
“I was excited to be out there. I wanted to play so bad. I wanted to play from the start, but I got my time in and I just have to build on it.”
Could Reed, who only came off the physically unable to perform list last week, seriously contend for that third spot with a few more playmaking performances?
“Absolutely,” said Cameron. “There’s great competition for those guys. He’s an extremely talented young man, he just needs to play. He’s an outstanding route-runner, he’s got great hands. If we keep him healthy, this guy’s going to help us win.”