Much has been written in regards to how much the Baltimore Ravens could struggle in 2013. Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers and Dennis Pitta is lost for the season to a hip injury. While the defense is set to have a huge bounce-back after last season’s injury-ridden catastrophe, the offense is expected to struggle with only a handful of proven receivers.
What if it all works out, though? Let’s say Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, and LaQuan Williams step up and become major contributors. Let’s say Visanthe Shiancoe shakes off the rust and shows glimpses of the playmaker he once was, while rookie tight end Matt Furstenburg continues to grow.
Well, then the Ravens could be one of the best teams in the league. Though Doss has struggled, he has also shown the ability to make impressive catches when they are needed. He made a spectacular 39-yard catch against the Cleveland Browns last season, as well as a great mid-air grab for 26 yards against the Oakland Raiders. Described as a potential possession receiver in the mold of Boldin, he could prove to be a valuable weapon all over the field.
While Thompson’s on-field action has been more limited than Doss’s, he has shown flashes of big talent. He has been rumored to be Baltimore’s next slot receiver, but he could also be utilized as a downfield threat next to Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Much like Doss, Thompson offers versatility at the wide receiver position, which is exactly what the Ravens need.
Visanthe Shiancoe was a beast as a tight end for the Minnesota Vikings, making plays left and right, amassing 24 touchdowns in five seasons. Brandon Stokely and Dallas Clark haven’t always put up huge numbers, but they are sure-handed pass catchers who can move the chains and make tough touchdown grabs.
While these receivers are in the twilight of their career, they could provide solid, veteran presence, especially in the red zone. John Harbaugh has expressed his pleasure in Shiancoe’s work ethic and physical shape, in particular. If he stays the course and keeps learning the playbook, he can be a huge asset to the Ravens.
Matt Furstenburg had a lot to prove going into OTAs and training camp as an undrafted free agent, and reports indicate that he’s been making a strong case for making the final roster. A young, athletic player who can make clutch catches, Furstenburg can help Ed Dickson and Shiancoe carry the load at tight end.
Even if just two of these players step up in the preseason, that could go a long way for the Ravens towards defending their Super Bowl title.