Longing to break big one


Receiver seeks to help team fill deep threat void

Demetrius Williams

June 06, 2008|By MIKE PRESTON

The pass was perfect, and so was the reception. And the Ravens are hoping this is a sign of things to come.

Quarterback Kyle Boller threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Demetrius Williams at passing camp Wednesday. It was a ball that barely got over the head of cornerback Corey Ivy and in front of safety Jim Leonhard. And then Williams snagged the pass with his fingertips as if his hands were covered with Super Glue.

We've all seen flashes of Williams' potential, but the Ravens want him to become more consistent because they need a deep vertical threat again.

They've got some other players who can fly, such as second-year receiver Yamon Figurs, but none with the experience of Williams.

Williams knows it's his time to step up or possibly step aside.

"We haven't talked about it yet," said Williams, a third-year player, of his role on the team. "The biggest thing we're trying to do is get the offense rolling, learn all the plays and get everybody on the same page.

"But I guess it will be the same as last year. They're going to need someone to come out and stretch the field, someone they can go to on third down. It's something I have done before, but I expect it to be a little expanded."

The Ravens aren't expecting any miracles with Williams. They don't see him turning into a Terrell Owens or a Randy Moss, especially overnight.

But this team is in desperate need of a deep threat. The Ravens' two starting receivers are clones. Derrick Mason is a possession receiver. Mark Clayton is a possession receiver.

Last year, the Ravens averaged only 9.7 yards a catch. The team needs someone to complement them besides tight end Todd Heap.

It could be Williams.

"Right now, he plays X and Z, and we'll play him on both sides of the ball," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "He [Demetrius] had been banged up, and this is his first week of practice. But this has been his best offseason. If he continues to work, continues to get better, we'll see how it works out."

Williams' first goal is to stay healthy. Last year, he started four of nine games before being sidelined the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain.

In preseason, Williams looked as if he were going to live up to his potential. He ran crisp routes and appeared stronger, being able to get through press coverage at the line of scrimmage. The fear of being hit going over the middle had disappeared.

Williams showed flashes early last season, and he had 20 catches for 290 yards, 16 of which were for first downs.

"Last season was below average," Williams said. "The injuries took place, and you can't produce if you're not playing. It was a fluke kind of thing, and I'm glad they are behind me."

According to Williams and the Ravens, he had a strong offseason. New head coach John Harbaugh was adamant about Williams' spending time in the weight room, and he has added about 10 pounds.

Unlike the previous two offseasons, Williams worked out at the team's headquarters in Owings Mills. A slight ankle injury forced him to miss passing camp a week ago, but Wednesday he was back on the field. Williams can become a luxury for the Ravens because he has so much speed and can play outside or in the slot.

Having Williams line up against a safety on the inside is clearly a mismatch in the Ravens' favor.

"My preparation last offseason, well, I just didn't do as good a job as this year," Williams said. "This time, I did a lot more running, I did more weightlifting. I changed every facet of my offseason program.

"I like this offense because it gives each guy an opportunity to get their hands on the ball. At no point in time is the ball going to just one guy. We're a spread offense, we're throwing the ball, and we're attacking."


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