NFL Teams
Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer 26d

Little-used Ravens WRs becoming NFL's most forgotten players

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- It wasn't too long ago when Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace stepped up to the microphone and made a bold statement.

"We expect to be the best in the league," Wallace said. "We expect to have three 1,000-yard [receivers] if we can."

That was at the start of training camp in late July. Here is the reality three weeks into the regular season: the Ravens have the least productive wide receivers in the NFL.

Baltimore's wide receivers have combined for the fewest catches (13), receiving yards (132) and yards per catch (10.1). The tandem of Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman account for $13.8 million of the team's salary cap this year and have turned into league's most forgotten players.

Three 1,000-yard receivers? The Ravens' top three receivers are on pace to combine for 645 yards.

Some of the struggles can be traced to a lack of chemistry, which is the result of quarterback Joe Flacco missing all of training camp and the preseason with a lower back injury. Another factor is the receivers getting open and holding onto the ball. And part of the troubles is a lack of rhythm on offense, which is a reflection of the scheme and play-calling.

All of this has contributed to Baltimore's inability to get the ball to its outside playmakers.

"Concern? No. Do we want it to happen? Yes," Wallace said. "I'm not concerned. We have the players [and] we have the coaches to get it done."

The lack of productivity from the Ravens' receivers in the first two weeks was chalked up to how the games unfolded. Baltimore jumped out to big leads because of its turnover-forcing defense, and the Ravens only had to run the ball in the second half to secure the victory.

There was no such excuse in Sunday's 44-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Ravens trailed 10-0 in the first quarter and were in catch-up mode for most of the game. Still, Baltimore's receivers finished with a brutal stat line of four catches for 25 yards.

"It was just hit or miss today. That’s the National Footabll League," Maclin said. "[The Jaguars] had a good game plan, though. They played with some man coverage with a little help in the middle of the field, an alert guy in the middle of the field. So anytime you were going across the middle, there were two guys there. But it's our job to adjust. And [Sunday] we didn't do that."

Last week, Wallace playfully sent the message that he wanted more catches. He told reporters seven different times that he "needed the rock."

It only got worse in Sunday's dismal showing in London. Wallace had one catch for six yards, which continued a bad trend. He has been held under 10 yards receiving in three straight games -- eight, seven and six yards -- for the first time in his eight-year career.

"For some reason or another, it's not working," Wallace said. "We'll get it done. We'll go back to work. Our coaches, I know they have a great game plan going back into this week against Pittsburgh."

In looking at the other struggling wide receiver groups, the Colts are without quarterback Andrew Luck, the Browns are starting rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and the Bills traded away wide receiver Sammy Watkins before the season. Baltimore's biggest loss was the retirement of Steve Smith Sr., but the Ravens thought they had filled that void by signing Maclin.

Right now, the Ravens' leading receivers are 36-year-old tight end Ben Watson and backup running back Buck Allen. They've totaled 43.7 percent of Baltimore's receptions (21 of 48).

Wallace hasn't had more than one catch in a game this season. Maclin delivered a 48-yard touchdown in the opener, but his other six receptions have been for a total of 47 yards. Perriman, a 2015 first-round pick, continues to be a disappointment with one catch for five yards.

The Ravens have to fix this while going against an improved Steelers defense. Pittsburgh ranks second in the NFL against the pass, allowing 137 yards per game.

"We're all going to get back in there together and make this thing happen," said Flacco, who is 31st in the NFL with a 65.2 passer rating. "These losses can be lonely but at the same time, we have a good team and we're all going to go back in there and work on it together. That's going to help us big time."

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