As saddening as it was to see the Baltimore Ravens place their top running back, J.K. Dobbins, on season-ending injured reserve, they did receive some welcomed injury news on Monday. After being sidelined with a hamstring injury on the first day of training camp, wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown returned to the practice field.
Ravens WR Marquise Brown (hamstring) is practicing today. He hasn’t practiced since July 28.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 30, 2021
This is a tremendously positive development for both Brown and a Ravens passing offense that has been under a microscope throughout the offseason. They’ve been overly cautious with Brown since he suffered the injury, bringing him back slowly to ensure he didn’t re-aggravate his hamstring.
“We’ll see how he does and how he looks. He’s excited,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
The top of the Ravens wide receiver depth chart was hit hard at the start of training camp. By the time Lamar Jackson returned from his second bout with COVID-19, he was working with mostly depth pieces and camp bodies. However, after organizing workouts with several of his top targets in the offseason, the former league MVP doesn’t believe chemistry will be a problem.
“I worked with those guys before they went down,” Jackson said last week. “So, I think when they come back, we’ll be hitting right where we started off at. When they get back, we’re going to go from there. We’re not worried about it, because we know they’ve been working hard, and we’ve been working hard as well.”
Brown and Jackson have a strong bond on and off the field. Their strong rapport was evident last year when Brown finished as the team’s leader in receiving yards (769), touchdowns (8), targets (100), and tied for first in receptions (58), all of which were career highs.
He is the fastest receiver on the team and the primary deep threat in the passing game. Despite their new additions at the position in veteran Sammy Watkins, fourth-round rookie Tylan Wallace and first overall pick Rashod Bateman, who is currently recovering from groin surgery, Brown is viewed as the favorite to lead the team in most statistical receiving categories in 2021. The one exception might be in touchdowns, where Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews has paced the Ravens in each of the last two seasons and ranks among the top in the league.
Before he injured his hamstring, Brown dazzled all who attended training camp. In addition to his blazing speed, he displayed improved route-running skills and refined technical skills.
“What I anticipate seeing, and what we saw in the OTAs are takeoff, stance, start, takeoff and then route running at the top of the break,” Harbaugh said the first week of camp. “I think those things have improved … I think we’ll see they’ve improved dramatically.”
Brown and Andrews were college teammates for one season at the University of Oklahoma, where they both were dangerous game-breaking weapons for eventual No. 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield. After watching all the hard work and dedication the 2019 first-round pick put into improving his overall game, Andrews believes Brown is going to surprise some people with his play in 2021.
“He’s a guy who has always been motivated, but just being able to work this offseason with him, I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with him, and it’s been awesome just to see where he’s at,” Andrews said. “He’s going to be ready to go. He’s such a dangerous player. I think he’s the type of player that’s going to shock-the-world-type of thing.”
The third-year pro was coming on strong towards the end of his second season and was lights out in the playoffs. He will have two full weeks of practice before the Ravens open the season on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. Hopefully ‘Primetime Jet’ picks up where he left off and helps propel Baltimore’s passing game to the next level with his dynamic playmaking ability.