As a rookie in 2020, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver James Proche was targeted just three times in 14 games and caught just one pass for 14 yards. His other two targets resulted in interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
He was mostly limited to special teams as the starting punt returner for most of the season before being inactive for the final two games of the regular season as well as both playoff games that year.
In his second season, Proche saw a significant uptick in his involvement and target share in the offense compared to his first year in the league. He appeared in 14 games and caught 16 of his 20 targets for 202 receiving yards
Despite coming off a strong training camp and preseason, Proche saw inconsistent targets, and offensive snaps, and was inactive for the last two games of the regular season for the second year in a row. He showed that he can be a reliable and surehanded chain mover both in the slot and even on the outside at times in limited opportunities.
His best games of the 2021 season came in Week 4 when he recorded five catches on six targets for 74 receiving yards in a 23-7 win over the Denver Broncos and in Week 16 when he recorded seven catches on eight targets for 76 receiving yards in a 21-41 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The first game came with Lamar Jackson at quarterback and the second was with Tyler Huntley under center. He showed plenty of promise when given the opportunity.
Despite being understandably and admittedly frustrated about being sparsely used during his first two seasons in the league, the former sixth-round pick is dedicated to sticking to the process that got him to where he is now.
“It would be frustrating for anybody just because you want to play,” Proche said. “That’s why you work hard, to play. But, like the best thing that I’ve ever heard in my life is, ‘Control what you can control.’”
He said at this point, he almost feels invincible because he trusts in God’s plan for him going forward and that he will continue to do his part and put himself in the best position to succeed.
“I just have to keep walking in those steps, keep working, keep my head down, and just keep grinding. Control what I can control,” Proche said.
He was a prolific and highly productive wideout in college at SMU that operated in the slot and on the outside. However, in his first two seasons with the Ravens, who have one of the league’s lowest volume passing attacks, he was stuck behind veterans and higher drafted players at his position on the depth chart.
With the trade of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals, the team opting not to select a wideout in this year’s draft, and no veteran signing at the position to date, Proche is finally poised to have a larger role on offense and he is excited about the opportunity.
“Every day is an opportunity, and [we] didn’t look at it any different,” Proche said. “Just kind of have to keep the same mindset no matter what the outside extremities are. Just focus, blinders on, don’t worry about anything else.”
He was happy to see a bulked-up Jackson back on the field in an official team setting for minicamp. The two regularly get together during the offseason to work on their connection and will continue to do so prior to training camp. Proche believes that they already have great chemistry on the field and that getting closer off the field will only strengthen their bond.
“I think that chemistry is important just as people,” Proche said. “We can go out and throw all day, but the closer we get as people, watching film, knowing each other’s thinking, knowing each other’s tendencies, what makes them tick, what makes them go.”
He called the criticisms and negative narratives about him and the rest of the Ravens’ wide receiver depth chart “just noise” and is just glad to have a chance to play professional football and contribute to the success of his offense and team overall.
“I’m super grateful, I’m super blessed,” Proche said. “I wouldn’t want to be doing anything [else] in the world right now.”