It was breaking news as the Ravens began their Sunday practice open to the public at M&T Bank Stadium.
You knew Ozzie was looking for veteran help at wide receiver. Now Brandon Stokley is back with the Ravens (his original team 14 years ago). This signing does not completely answer the vacuum at wide receiver left by the losses of Boldin, Pitta and Dickson, but it sure adds some depth to the slot receiver position.
Ravens PR writer Ryan Mink broke the news around 1:00 P.M. EST on Sunday. It was also revealed that Stokely passed his physical and would practice on Sunday with the team.
Brandon Stokley is a professional slot receiver—and a proven winner.
“We’ve got a lot of guys outside. We’ll be fine. We can run; we’ve got a lot of speed,” Wide Receivers Coach Jim Hostler said Saturday.
“We’ve just got to find those couple guys inside that can go in there on third down and make plays in critical situations to move the chains. And that’s where we’re at – we’re trying to discover those guys.”
The Ravens were trying out Deonte Thompson, Tandon Doss and David Reed primarily in that role. But while they’re all still learning it and growing, Stokley has been playing it for 14 years….and allegedly still can play at a high level.
Stokley is 6-0, 192 and runs a 4.6 40-yard time. He was drafted by the Ravens in the 4th round out of UL- Lafayette in 1999.
He has 384 career receptions for 5,224 yards and 39 touchdowns.
With Peyton Manning throwing to him last year in Denver, Stokley had one of the best seasons of his career. He notched 45 receptions for 544 yards and five touchdowns, and started nine of the 15 games he played in.
After leaving Baltimore in 2002, Stokley played for the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants. His best season was in 2004 with the Colts when he caught 68 passes for 1,077 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Stokley's thing is running precision routes. His passion is finding a seam in the defensive coverage and splitting it. He still has one of the best pair of hands in the league.
Stokley helped the Ravens win their first Super Bowl in 2000 when he caught the first touchdown of the game from quarterback Trent Dilfer. A painting of that play still hangs at the Ravens training complex. Now the Ravens are banking on Stokley being able to rekindle the magic.
Fans went to M&T Bank Stadium for free to watch Stokley practice with the team for the first time this year. Gates opened at 3:30 p.m. and practice started at 5 p.m.
If nothing else, the signing of the 37-year-old Stokley sends a message to the Ravens young receiver candidates— this thing is still an open competition. It's a clear challenge for the younger receivers to step up.