It’s a different feel, a different look for the Ravens offense with the arrival of veteran wideout Jeremy Maclin this summer. It also helps that Breshad Perriman looks completely healthy at this time of year for the first time, and that Mike Wallace is still there, too. Suddenly the Ravens’ biggest weakness from the past two seasons—a depleted receiving corps—has become a strength.
And QB Joe Flacco is completely healed from his ACL injury suffered a year-and-a-half ago. Flacco looks mobile and ready to wheel and deal.
It’s not all wine and roses. All-pro right guard Marshal Yanda is not ready to go yet after having offseason shoulder surgery. He may not be ready to rumble until late in training camp in August. That’s not good for an offensive line that is already struggling to find a top-notch starter at center and right tackle.
Garrett Downing of the Ravens media department provides these observations of Ravens minicamp so far:
– New receiver Jeremy Maclin made his debut in a Ravens uniform. He’s been on the roster for less than 24 hours, so his role was limited. He went through individual drills and was used sparingly in 11-on-11 action. The Ravens want to give him some time to get acclimated to the playbook and how the Ravens run a practice.
– Safety Anthony Levine had a nice day of practice. He brought down a tipped pass for an interception along the sidelines (there was some debate about whether he was in bounds), and he came up with another interception later in the day.
– Rookie defensive lineman Chris Wormley seems like he knows how to use his size to his advantage. The 6-foot-5 defender constantly looks for ways to get his arms in passing lanes, and he batted down a pass in practice.
– Wide receiver Mike Wallace likes to remind people that he’s not just a deep threat, and he showed that in red-zone drills against cornerback Jimmy Smith. Wallace pulled off a shifty move to get separation from Smith and then made a difficult outstretched catch for the touchdown.
– The punt returner competition will be interesting to watch this summer. The Ravens have a large contingency taking reps at the position, including veteran defensive back Lardarius Webb, receivers Keenan Reynolds, Tim White, Aaron Bailey and C.J. Board, and running back Taquan Mizzell.
Maclin had this to say about why he chose to sign with the Ravens on a 2-year deal worth $11 million:
“I just felt that Baltimore made the most sense, from a football standpoint, a comfort standpoint, and a personal standpoint,” Maclin said. He went on to explain that the Ravens give him a great chance to win, as they’ve build an exceptionally strong defense and Maclin believes he can help takes the offense to another level.
The system is also a fit considering his background with OC Marty Mornhinweg. Maclin said there’s some different terminology and wrinkles in the playbook, but the base is the same that he’s been in for seven of his nine NFL seasons.
The decision itself wasn’t as hard as what led to the decision.
The Kansas City Chiefs opted to wait until June 2 – after he had participated in five OTA sessions – to release Maclin. Tight against the cap, the Chiefs reportedly did so to divide his $7.2 million in dead money over the next two years instead of taking it all this season.
It was a move that “shocked” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Had Maclin been released before free agency opened in March, he may have been paid more.
“There were some things last year that were out of my control and that’s kind of how things go. They kind of took them and ran with them. It is what it is,” Maclin said.
“It hurt a little bit, how it went down and it being so unexpected. At the same time, it’s a business and you understand how things works. There was only one choice but to pull it together and get things back on track.”
Last season was difficult for Maclin. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and a trip to the Pro Bowl after the 2014 season, he posted career-lows in receptions (44), receiving yards (536) and touchdowns (2) last season. A big reason was that the 2009 first-round pick missed four games due to injuries.
Still, being released two years into a reported five-year, $55 million deal – in addition to the timing – didn’t sit well with Maclin, and it provides motivation for him moving forward.
“Big-time [motivation], and not to prove them wrong, but you never want to be in a situation like that again,” Maclin said. “Don’t leave any room for doubt, any error. Just go out there and play football.”