With wide receiver Jacoby Jones returning to the practice field this week for the Baltimore Ravens, it seems as if there will once again be competition for the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receiver spots behind the top guy Torrey Smith.
However, Jones will not immediately be reinserted into the lineup as he is still recovering from an MCL injury suffered in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. This leaves a window of opportunity still available for guys like second-year wide receiver Deonte Thompson to prove his worth to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
In his first game of the 2013 NFL season against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4, Thompson came back catching four balls for 50 yards but had to leave early due to concussion symptoms. Durability has been the main issue attached with the 2012 undrafted free agent, and it appears as if those issues still may be prevalent. However, when healthy, Thompson can be one of the more explosive players this offense has and deserves consideration for more playing time.
Yes, it may seem like I’m ringing the praises of a guy who only saw 19 snaps Sunday in Orchard Park, New York, but Thompson possesses a similar skill-set to that of the injured Jones. He is also somewhat similar to a colleague of his in Tandon Doss, but his speed is much better than Doss’. All three of these guys offer virtually the same thing: an ability to come out of the slot offensively and an ability to return kicks and punts.
The Ravens have to be looking at the former Florida Gator wideout as being an option for the No. 3 spot because who else are they going to trot out there? Sure, Thompson doesn’t have great hands, nor does he run great routes, but his speed is only matched by maybe Jones and Baltimore needs someone that can complement Smith in getting deep down the field. Keep in mind, when Jones is healthy, he doesn’t have great consistent hands either, so it’s coming to a point where changes in the personnel have to be made to at least try something different.
Still, even if Thompson finds himself healthy and is given an increased role in this offense, the 24-year-old is probably not the answer in solving the Ravens’ biggest issue thus far in the passing offense: being able to catch passes in the seams or over the middle. Thompson and the other Ravens wide receivers seem to excel more in situations where offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell dials up crossing patterns and underneath drag routes to create separation and open field areas. Thompson is a guy, when he catches it, who can use his speed to get some serious yards after the catch. It’s just a matter of staying healthy and bringing in the football consistently.