As we talked about yesterday running back Ray Rice was the Ravens leading receiver in 2011 with 76 receptions. In yardage however he was outdone by the Ravens number one and two wide receivers. Anquan Boldin lead the team with 886 receiving yards. Rookie wide out Torrey Smith was second on the team with 841. Right behind them was Rice with 704 yards through the air.
With the very likely possibility that the Ravens are going to be passing the ball more in 2012 does that mean Rice will no longer be the teams leading receiver? Not likely. Even though the Raves are trying to use quarterback Joe Flacco's arm more this season, Flacco goes through his reads quickly and will quickly check down to old reliable Rice if there is nothing immediately available down field.Perhaps the addition of a new viable option at the third receiver position will cut back on some of Rice's receptions. If Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss or whoever is able to create separation from nickle backs or safeties then Flacco could find himself with more mismatches than in years past. Throughout the years one of the Ravens biggest issues in the receiving game has been finding receivers that can create separation. They have found one in Torrey Smith and perhaps another one in Jacoby Jones if he can manage to get his timing down and catch the ball consistently.
If that were to be the case Boldin could spend more time inside where he can out muscle defenders for the ball in tight spaces and could potentially mean big things for the Ravens on offense. Boldin finished second on the team in receptions with 57 last season even though he missed three games and played hurt in a few others. Look for those numbers to increase in 2012 with the duel deep threats of Smith and Jones on the outside. If Boldin can stay healthy that is...
The Ravens showed more and more confidence in their young tight end duo in 2011 as well. Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta have been the B version to New England's Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski but with the chemistry growing with Flacco and the confidence growing from the coaching staff these two could be used even more in the upcoming season. I doubt either one alone would lead the team in receiving although. Only because they split time for many plays even though the Ravens find ways to get them on the field together. If anything the increased production from these two could end up meaning less check downs to rice.
Rookie running back Bernard Pierce has been brought in to share time in the backfield with Rice as well. Rice will still get the majority of carries but I have a funny feeling that the Ravens expect big things from Pierce and his playing time may increase throughout the season if all goes as planned. This, again may lead to less receptions for Rice in the long run.