"He was a very good route runner," Brandt said of Mason. "He wasn't a straight-line runner, but he could go from Point A to Point B faster than Reidel Anthony [the third wide-out taken in the draft]. And he had unbelievably good hands, way above average."
Mason has eight plays of 20 or more yards this season, including touchdowns of 72 and 62 yards. He delivered the 62-yarder against the Detroit Lions in one of the most electrifying plays of the season. Sandwiched by defensive backs Phillip Buchanon and Marvin White, Mason remained standing when they both fell. In an instant, he was scampering down the field to the end zone, where he nearly collapsed in pain from White's hit to the chest.
Mason declined to rank a play that was emblematic of his inspirational career. But offensive coordinator Cam Cameron had the right perspective.
"I think for some guys, it's really tough" to take that hit and make that play, Cameron said. "And I think for other guys, it's not tough at all. ... Some guys are cut out to make that catch and then not be surprised when their feet are still underneath them and they're running down the field for a touchdown. You see a lot of guys where they're thinking about just the catch and going to the ground. I think it's the guy. I think those kind of plays tell you a lot about the heart of a guy.
"I think he's a great player, and he's one of, if not the greatest receiver, I've been around."
Mason stands alone
Derrick Mason was a fourth-round selection - and the 98th player taken overall - by the then-Tennessee Oilers in the 1997 draft. Eight wide receivers were taken ahead of him. Thirteen seasons later, only Mason remains. Here's a look at the wide-outs drafted before him in '97:
Player Rd. Team Years Catches TDs
Ike Hilliard 1st Giants 12 546 35
Yatil Green 1st Dolphins 4 18 0
Reidel Anthony 1st Buccaneers 5 144 16 Rae Carruth 1st Panthers 3 62 4
Joey Kent 2nd Oilers 4 13 1
Kevin Lockett 2nd Chiefs 7 130 8
Will Blackwell 2nd Steelers 5 67 2
Dedric Ward 3rd Jets 8 167 12
Derrick Mason 4th Oilers 13 849 58
Sunday, 1 p.m.
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Line: Ravens by 11