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Late For Work 5/31: WRs Jacoby Jones, LaQuan Williams Stand Out For Different Reasons

Leach ranked 45th best NFL player, Williams hopeful for deal, how to make Pro Bowl exciting.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 9:28 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

WRs Jones, Williams Stand Out For Different Reasons

Two wide receivers stood out to media during yesterday’s OTA practice, but for different reasons.

Second-year receiver LaQuan Williams, who believes he is still fighting for a roster spot after becoming the Ravens’ Cinderella story last year, reportedly had one of the highlights of the day with a beautiful catch on a fade in the corner of the end zone and a one-handed snag on a laser over the middle.

The former undrafted free agent was even making plays against Lardarius Webb, beating the Ravens top corner along the sidelines on more than one occasion, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.

“Williams looks to be in great shape,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, new addition Jacoby Jones appeared to have trouble holding onto passes, as he reportedly dropped a “handful,” says Zrebiec.

His performance prompted a few tweets from various spectators.

“LaQuan Williams has amazing hands,” wrote WBAL’s Gerry Sandusky. “Jacoby Jones still has consistency issues catching.”

“Jacoby Jones had a rough day as far as catching the football,” added RavensInsider Aaron Wilson. “In contrast, LaQuan Williams looked very sharp.”

For Ravens fans, Jones’ consistency issues with holding onto the football stem back to the AFC divisional playoff game against Houston when he fumbled twice – but not on receptions, on punts.  One of his muffed punts led to a Baltimore touchdown.

Having said all that, Jones did leave several positive impressions too.

He used his quick first step to get open and snag a touchdown in 11-on-11 drills. His speed and work ethic are big pluses in the eyes of Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg, who is evaluating Jones as a returner (which Ryan Mink will get more into later today).

Leach Ranked 45th Best Player In NFL

Vonta Leach: Top 100

Ravens fullback Vonta Leach was ranked as the 45th best player on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2012, a list determined by the players themselves.

I’m humbled to be on the list with a league full of great players no matter where I was ranked,” Leach tweeted after his ranking was revealed last night.

The nine-year veteran has a throw-back style that isn’t easily found in the NFL these days.

“He reminds me of the Lorenzo Neals of the day, those 1990s/80s fullbacks that were just big, raw, mauler-type guys that have no neck, just head and shoulders,” said Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma of Leach. “They are going one way.”

Leach was brought to the Ravens in 2011, making running back Ray Rice a very happy man. But as can be seen in the network’s video package of Leach, it took some time for Rice to adjust and learn how to follow his Pro Bowl fullback.

Ray Lewis found Rice on the sidelines during the season-finale in Cincinnati, encouraging him to trust and follow Leach.

“We’re too great. Forty-four is your Pro Bowl fullback. That’s your glory,” Lewis told Rice. “Follow him. Make somebody come through him, baby boy, to get you. Don’t do it by yourself.”

Rice got the message, churning out 1,364 rushing yards in 16 games, good for the second most in the league last season.

Flacco is the only other Raven to make the list so far, coming in at No. 74.

Lighter Attendance In Week 2 Of OTAs

Various reports indicated the attendance in Week 2 of Ravens organized team activities (OTAs) was lighter than Week 1.

While veteran center Matt Birk returned after missing last week, several other veterans that were present last week weren’t in attendance yesterday, including Jimmy Smith, Marshal Yanda, Pernell McPhee, Bernard Pollard and Leach.

A total of 20 were reportedly missing for various reasons.

There were also many starters who did participate including Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith, Jameel McClain, Sam Koch, Billy Cundiff, Lardarius Webb, Terrence Cody, Michael Oher, Ed Dickson, Art Jones, Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger.

Williams Hopeful For Long-Term Deal

Cornerback Cary Williams, who is aiming to return to individual drills June 12 after undergoing offseason hip surgery, has been attending OTAs despite his inability to fully participate and a murky contract situation.

Williams signed a one-year tender in early May, but is still optimistic that he can sign a long-term contract extension with the team.

“It’s the money business. I don’t worry about it,” Williams told The Baltimore Sun. “I let my agent take care of that, whether there are discussions or not, and I take care of what I can control and that’s me getting back from rehab and playing at an exceptional level. … I would love to be in Baltimore. I would love to end my career here. I would love to have a long-term deal. But you just never know what direction the organization wants to go. And at the end of the day, we’re not settling either.”

Williams started every game last season, notching 78 tackles, 18 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He is competing with second-year corner Jimmy Smith to keep his starting role.

How To Make The Pro Bowl Exciting

After giving serious consideration to canceling the Pro Bowl, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell agreed with the NFL Players Association to hold the All-Star game in Honolulu on Jan. 27.

The agreement came only after the commissioner received a promise from players that they will make the game more competitive. Fans and some players, like Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, were disappointed with the uninspired play after last season’s 59-41 AFC victory.

“The players have made it clear through the NFL Players Association that they would like the opportunity to continue to play the Pro Bowl in Hawaii,” NFL Executive Vice President Ray Anderson said. “We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season’s game.”

Exactly how the players will make the game more exciting is unknown, but Sandusky has a pretty good suggestion.

“If the NFL really wants to make the Pro Bowl competitive then they should put up a pot of money and make it winner take all,” he tweeted.

Quick Hits

  • GerrySandusky: I can’t wait to see rookie RB Bernard Pierce in pads. The battle for backup QB could get interesting. Rookie S Christian Thompson makes plays. [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: Tough day for Ramon Harewood as far as holding penalties, acknowledged he’s knocking off a lot of rust. [Twitter]
  • OJBrigance: When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have 2 options: medically & emotionally: give up, or fight like hell. [Twitter]
  • Ravens seventh-round pick DeAngelo Tyson was selected as the team’s “rookie long shot,” a low draft pick or undrafted free agent who could make the roster and contribute. “The Ravens’ defensive-line depth took a hit with the departure of Cory Redding in free agency,” Pro Football Weekly wrote. “Veteran Ryan McBean, whom Baltimore signed in May, will miss the first three games because of an NFL suspension. A team captain at Georgia, the tough and hardworking Tyson would not be the most unlikely seventh-rounder to make a roster out of camp. The Ravens did not draft another defensive lineman.” [Pro Football Weekly]

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