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Ravens’ One To Watch: Michael Crabtree

Joe Flacco was put on notice by the Raven’s brass when they traded back into the first round of the draft to select LaMar Jackson. Jackson himself is a fascinating player. According to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg “He’s way ahead of the curve.” However, the Ravens have given him Joe Flacco offensive weapons to succeed. One of those new weapons is my ‘one to watch’. That player is Michael Crabtree.

I believe the Ravens fans should be excited about the addition of Crabtree. He’s a veteran who can spark the Ravens passing game to life. Crabtree joins his third team after spells in San Francisco and Oakland. Over the last three years Crabtree has averaged 848 yards and 8.33 touchdowns (despite missing 2 games in 2018). That’s a hundred more yards that last year’s leading receiver Mike Wallace. No player on the Ravens scored more than 4 touchdowns last year!

Crabtree has not consistently been the number one receiver during has career but will be expected to be just that for the Ravens. He’s bar far the best and most consistent target the Ravens have. When asked about being a leader for the team he replied “I don’t have a choice. I’m going on 10 [years] in the game, and all these guys are three-, four-, first-year guys. That’s just my role. At the same time, I’m out there competing like I’m 21, so I’m going to have fun with it.”

I believe he’ll be a huge boost to the Ravens both on and off the field. Crabtree runs clean routes and really has a knack for finding the endzone. Crabtree will need to establish a rhythm and rapport with Flacco early if the Ravens are going to improve on their 29th ranked passing offence (averaging 189.4 yards a game) but he can also provide veteran leadership and tutelage to the younger Ravens. The team drafted Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley and although they were day three picks they will benefit from the experience that Crabtree has accrued in his 10 year career.

Offensive line play was not a strength for the team. Marshal Yanda spent the majority of the game, in fact he played only 2 games last year. Having him healthy will be a huge boost for them but they must find depth behind him. One of the most intriguing rookies is third round tackle Orlando Brown. His tape shows that he can play at the next level. His combine workout was historically bad for an offensive lineman. Although he improved this considerably in his pro day he’ll enter camp with a chip on his shoulder.

The Ravens have a history of making feature players out of veteran receivers, having done so with both Steve Smith Sr. and Anquan Boldin in the past. Whatever happens with Crabtree, Joe Flacco must improve on his 18 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a passer rating of 80.4 or he’ll lose his place to former Louisville star, Jackson.

Photograph copyright Baltimore Sun

Sent from my iPad

Article written by:

Johnny has been an Eagles fan since 1992 when he was in awe of Randall Cunningham. He covers the AFC North for Ninety-Nine Yards. You can follow him on Twitter @Cumbleton.

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