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Battle For No. 3 Receiver ‘Is Over’
Could the battle for the receiving spot behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith already be decided?
That’s what John Eisenberg concludes, declaring newly signed Jacoby Jones as the winner.
“It was Jacoby Jones’ job to lose, and he didn’t.”
You won’t hear Head Coach John Harbaugh make the same declaration anytime soon seeing as his team still hasn’t even participated in preseason action. But that doesn’t mean Eisenberg’s prediction won’t hold true by the time the season opener rolls around in September.
When the Ravens signed the six-year veteran free agent from the Texans in May, they didn’t have a lot of breathing room under the salary cap. Adding only a handful of players this entire offseason, Baltimore reportedly shoveled out most of its limited money to Jones.
The team knew Jones could be the primary kick/punt returner, but there were questions about his consistency with holding onto balls. To his credit, Jones purchased a JUGS machine for his home to work on developing more reliable hands.
In his short time with the Ravens, Jones has limited his mistakes, become an explosive option to complement Smith and has quickly developed chemistry with Flacco, which he put on display in front of more than 20,000 fans at M&T Banks Stadium Saturday evening.
If Eisenberg is correct about Jones, that means the next battle to watch is for the No. 4 receiving spot. That competition is still murky as receiver Tandon Doss only returned to practice Monday after missing six practices due to injury.
“Tandon Doss was the presumed favorite [for the No. 4 spot], but he has barely been on the field (hamstring),” wrote Eisenberg. “LaQuan Williams has made more plays than rookie Tommy Streeter or anyone else. Undrafted free agent Deonte Thompson has faded a bit lately, dropping some balls. Scrap-heaper Logan Payne has impressed with his hands and knack.”
Harbs To Cundiff: You’ll Be Our Guy If …
In another high-profile training camp competition, the wide consensus is that the kicker role is incumbent Billy Cundiff’s to lose.
That seems to be the 2010 Pro Bowler’simpression too.
Speaking with 105.7 The Fan’s Mark Zinno about how this year’s training camp has compared to past ones, Cundiff said he has appreciated the support from the Ravens and has already been told what he has to do to keep his job.
“Earlier in my career, I never really had a lot of support from the team I was on. So they would kind of throw you out to the wolves, yell and see if you can survive,” Cundiff explained.
“Here, it’s been a little bit different. I know that everybody upstairs, Coach Harbs especially, has said, ‘Look, if you just go out and do your thing, then you’re going to be our guy.’ So the competition is essentially here to make sure I’m doing my thing. Make sure that I don’t falter, make sure that I’m keeping my paces up, and make sure that I’m trying to get better.”
Cundiff is being challenged by rookie free agent Justin Tucker, who has impressed onlookers with his strong leg and accuracy. But Cundiff believes his maturity gives him a mental edge over Tucker.
“Justin is just a completely different guy. He’s a young kid out of college,” Cundiff said. “The maturity level is completely different than somebody like myself who’s been around. Going on my ninth season, I’ve kind of seen a lot, done a lot, that whole deal. So they have a little more experience with me here.”
He added, “I’ve enjoyed having [Tucker] here. … He’s very talented, so there’s some mutual respect in the sense that we’re learning from each other.”
Reid Comforts Harbaugh At Funeral
More than 900 people gathered to remember the life of Garrett Reid, the son of Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid, who was found dead Sunday morning in a dormitory room at Eagles camp.
Among those who packed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) chapel were five Ravens: Harbaugh, his assistant Heather Matjasic, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, safety Sean Considine and kicking consultant Randy Brown.
It’s every parent’s nightmare to go through what the Reids are experiencing, but true to the mentor role he’s always played, it was the Eagles coach who was comforting Harbaugh at his own son’s funeral.
“He was very much himself; he was comforting us,” Harbaugh told reporters, which can be seen in the video below. “He wrapped me up in a big bear hug, and he told me everything was going to be alright. That’s the Andy I know.”
Harbaugh worked under Reid for nine years in Philadelphia, creating a strong bond and friendship. Beyond that, the two families also became tight, as Harbaugh developed his own relationship with young Garrett.
“The one thing I took from the service more than anything was that Garrett was a friend of everybody,” Harbaugh said. “The kids at school that were kind of struggling a little bit, he was their friend. The guys that were picked last for the basketball team, he was their friend. He would take everybody under his wing. That’s a trait I think he gets from Andy.”
The most poignant part of the hour-long service, Harbaugh said, was when Garrett’s sister, Crosby, sang her 29-year-old brother’s favorite hymn, “My Heavenly Father Lifts Me Up.”
After the service, Harbaugh had to quickly put his coaching hat back on as he returned to training camp in Owings Mills, Md. to oversee practice at the Under Armour Performance Center.
“That’s probably a credit to our guys, to our coaches, our players,” he said. “Our guys are business-like. We’ve got a lot of momentum. Our guys know how to conduct themselves.”
“Linebacker Josh Bynes has been out of practice for the past week, and it was finally revealed that he cracked his vertebrae at two protrusions,” wrote Jason Butt. “Harbaugh said the injury will last about four to five weeks.” [CBSSports.com]
The newcomer to watch is recently signed wide receiver Logan Payne, says Matt Vensel. “Payne looks to be developing chemistry quickly with Taylor, who threw his way often again on Tuesday. Payne caught two touchdown passes from Taylor inside the red zone, and Payne was targeted a few times underneath the safeties in the seven-on-seven drill.” [The Baltimore Sun]
Even thought new Quarterback Coach Jim Caldwell has mostly been credited for his mechanical work with quarterback Joe Flacco, the fifth-year quarterback says the attribute he appreciates most is Caldwell’s communication skills. [The Baltimore Sun]
Ed Dickson already has a nickname for veteran tight end Billy Bajema, who has only been with the Ravens for a few days. “I call him ‘Crazy Bill,’” Dickson said. Here’s why … [CSNBaltimore.com]