Ravens' receivers hoping to catch on

Cavanaugh: 'Two or three of those guys are going to have to step up'

August 03, 2004|By P.J. Martinez | P.J. Martinez,Baltimoresun.com Staff

A quick glance at the Ravens' roster of wide receivers begs the question:

Who are these guys?

For starters, they're the ones the team is counting on to add balance to an offense that finished last in the league in passing last season. Just how that will happen remains to be seen.

Only two receivers - Kevin Johnson and Travis Taylor - have started more than four games in their career. Neither had gaudy numbers last season - Johnson caught 58 passes to Taylor's 39 - and both had three touchdowns.

Entering his fifth season, the 6-foot-1 Taylor still hasn't produced like the Ravens thought he would when they chose him as the 10th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. After spending part of the offseason working out with second-year quarterback Kyle Boller at the team's training facility, Taylor is hoping that will finally be his breakout season.

Johnson's resume is more impressive. Acquired during the offseason in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had his best season with the Cleveland Browns in 2001, when he caught 84 passes for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns. He is the only Ravens receiver with a 1,000-yard season.

But there's more to Johnson's story than his numbers indicate. Released by the Browns last November after butting heads with coach Butch Davis, the former Syracuse star is hoping to clear up any lingering questions surrounding his reputation as a team player.

According to Ravens tight end Todd Heap, Johnson has let his play do the talking.

"From what I've seen in Kevin thus far in camp, he's made a lot of great plays," Heap said. "I think it's going to take some pressure off of Travis on the other side and it'll take some pressure off of me."

After Johnson and Taylor, the most experienced receiver the team has is Ron Johnson, who caught just one pass last season and 10 as a rookie in 2002. Then there's Randy Hymes, a college quarterback who impressed the coaching staff enough to earn two starts as a rookie in 2002 but missed all of last year with a leg injury.

Both Hymes and Johnson figure to compete for the team's third receiver spot, but neither has distinguished himself after just three days of training camp. They'll be pushed by rookie draft picks Devard Darling and Clarence Moore, both former track stars who feature the speed the Ravens have lacked in previous years.

According to Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, more than one of the younger receivers could earn a subtantial amount of playing time this season.

"Two or three of those guys are going to have to step up," he said, "Because they're going to be on the field at some point."

Injury Update

After missing parts of Friday's practice with a back ailment, Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden pronounced himself healthy today.

"I was just sore," he said. "I had a little bit of this and that, but it's all good."

Running back B.J. Sams, signed in the offseason as a rookie free agent, has a broken thumb and will miss up to four weeks.

Originally published August 2, 2004, 5:33 PM EDT

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