As the news broke Friday night that the Baltimore Ravens will be without wide receiver Jacoby Jones for the next 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL, questions arose about the significance of this injury going forward.
The Ravens were looking to Jones to serve more of an increased role both offensively and in the special teams return game. Initially, Jones was expected to be a guy who could see roughly 40 snaps each game as the No. 2 wide receiver for this team and given that the Ravens already have a lack of depth at that position, this loss escalates the stress level for offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.
Jones is by no means an exceptional pass-catcher and relies more on his speed in order to gain separation from defenders, but the Ravens don’t have many options for quarterback Joe Flacco that can even offer what he puts on the table.
The biggest impact with the Jones injury obviously is in the return game. The Lane College product led the NFL in kickoff return yards in 2012 with 30.7 yards per return. He also added two kickoff returns for a touchdown, and he took one punt to the house during the regular season. Baltimore fans also can’t forget his 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
With the 29-year-old sidelined for more than a quarter of the Ravens’ regular season remaining, you have to wonder where the Ravens will look to fill the void. Tandon Doss is gone. Bobby Rainey is a member of the Cleveland Browns. Lardarius Webb is their No. 1 corner and is coming off of his second torn ACL injury.
Where does the franchise go from here?
I would look to a guy like wide receiver and kick return specialist Josh Cribbs. Cribbs was cut by the Oakland Raiders earlier in the preseason and is still available if the Ravens so choose to head in that direction. The 30-year-old historically gave the Ravens problems during his days in Cleveland, and possesses a similar skill set to the injured Jones.
So will the Ravens make the move, or will they try to build from within and supplant Jones with a guy who doesn’t possess the same game-changing abilities?