Yesterday, Baltimore’s first-round pick Marquise Brown was absent from practice and some of the team’s fanbase predictably began to freak out and panic.
These were just some of the accusations made by individuals. Obviously, none of these statements hold much weight and are merely reactionary judgements to a situation that calls for the exact opposite.
Is “Hollywood” getting full-speed reps the ideal scenario? Sure. However, is it worrisome that he missed one day of practice? Absolutely not - and here’s why.
From the moment the Ravens drafted Marquise Brown, everyone involved knew that he was in the process of recovering from a lisfranc injury he suffered towards the end of his last season in Oklahoma. Everyone also knew, most importantly the front office, coaching staff, and trainers, that the rehab process was going to be a long one.
The initial timeline set by the organization was training camp. After continuing to rehab during OTA’s and minicamp, Brown began practicing in limited fashion a few weeks ago and on Saturday, he participated in 7-on-7 drills for the first time. The Ravens are slowly increasing his workload in preparation for the season, which was the plan all along.
The fact that he’s begun full-speed participation is encouraging stuff. By all accounts, Brown has looked exactly as advertised since he began practicing. He’s running fast, catching passes, and his route-running has looked sharp and crisp. Check out this play below from Sunday’s practice.
In this clip, it doesn’t even look like Brown is running full speed and he still had to slow up a bit to make the reception from Lamar Jackson. Needless to say playing with Brown will take some getting used to for QB1, as he’s never played with a receiver as athletic as #15.
It’s important to remember that prior to training camp, Brown was essentially on the shelf for half a year. This isn’t to say he wasn’t working out and following a training regimine, but in terms on on-field football work, he was absent or limited for a prolonged period of time. For any player, returning from an injury like the lisfranc condition takes some getting used to, but especially if you’re a receiver.
Brown’s game is dependent on his ability to sprint, accelerate, make sharp cuts, and plant his feet. Much of this is sharpened with timing and repetition, and Brown is just now making up for lost time while he was absent during his recovery. Considering the nature of the injury at play, his stature, and his position, the fact that he’s looked this fast and smooth since joining the offense is a positive.
The most important and positive development surrounding the rookie wideout, however, is obvious:
Unless there’s something going on behind the scenes that nobody else knows about, Brown hasn’t suffered any setbacks from his initial injury. His absence from practice yesterday appears to be merely a precautionary measure after Brown’s first two days of full-contact work. John Harbaugh echoed as such while addressing the media post-practice.
“Just recovering, you know,” Harbaugh said. “We don’t have any serious injuries, and it’s just part of the process.”
In a sense, our reaction to the team holding Brown out of practice should actually be on the happier side. That may sound weird, but think about it. After the Breshad Perriman disaster and the struggles of Hayden Hurst after returning from foot surgery last season, it appears the Ravens have learned their lesson. Perhaps they mishandled the injuries of those two players in recent years and are making a concentrated effort not to do the same with their latest first-round draft selection and pass-catcher.
They’ve gone about his progression the right way - patience, constructiveness, and routine - and after maybe failing in these areas with some of their prior draft investments, this is an encouraging sign. Fans are predictably worried that Brown will be yet another failed project and injury prone player. It’s entirely too early to say such and frankly unfair.
As his first ever draft selection as the team’s GM, Eric DeCosta made a big investment by selecting Brown. While on the phone with the rookie on draft night, DeCosta himself claimed the two would be “joined at the hip” for years to come.
When you make such a big investment in anything, but especially in the NFL, you treat it with delicacy - as the Ravens are doing with “Hollywood”. He has the potential to be a significant contributor for Baltimore and star receiver in the league, but only if health permits.
The regular season is still roughly a month away. The best and smartest thing to do until then is reserve our judgement and let Brown’s development play out. In due time, we’ll see if the doubters are vindicated. For now, though, any jumps to conclusions are foolish.