The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to get incredible production out of Antonio Brown over the course of his nine years with the team. The Baltimore Ravens are hoping to replicate that sort of success and then some with his cousin, Marquise Brown, whom they drafted in the first round a year ago.
In spite of the fact that he spent most of the offseason recovering from a foot injury, Brown still managed to have a successful season in a run-first offense—the Ravens literally threw fewer passes than any other team in the league, while setting a new single-season rushing record—and is geared up for a huge encore, now that he is fully healthy, what he calls a “big statement”.
The second-year wide receiver said that he feels like he has a “new foot” this offseason, now months beyond having had a screw removed from his foot that he played with during his rookie season, he told Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report.
“I give respect to all the guys who came before, but I don’t think there’s ever been anyone like me”, he said. “Nobody’s played like me at that size. Because I’m a receiver. They look at the small guys and think I’m just a gadget player. No, I’m a receiver. I can run every route. I know every defense”.
That might sound arrogant, but I don’t think it’s quite so simple. Very few slot receivers, while quick, have had anything close to the speed that Brown can reach—and which he didn’t even have the opportunity to show during his rookie year because of the foot injury, despite being an effective deep threat anyway.
And he’s not putting himself into any type of box. He wants to learn. From anywhere. Anything that can help him be a better player and improve his game, he wants to know about. “Guys get to the league, and they want to uphold this image that their way is the best way”, he said. “I don’t think like that”.
During the 2019 season, Brown caught 46 passes for 584 yards, scoring seven touchdowns. He broke out in a big way right out of the gate with a four-catch, 147-yard game, during which his first two NFL receptions were long touchdowns. While his numbers slowed as the season wore on, he had a big game in the postseason as well, catching seven passes for 126 yards.
The Ravens expect third-year quarterback Lamar Jackson to continue to progress as a passer, and, frankly, to attempt more passes, and to help him, they drafted two more wide receivers, though they also drafted a running back in the second round. But it’s very improbable that they have the sort of run-pass ratio of 2019, which is an anomaly for the times to say the least.