Baltimore Ravens excited for Jeremy Maclin’s camp debut Wednesday



OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens created a buzz even before stepping on the field for mandatory minicamp this week with the signing of free-agent receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Maclin, who was released by Kansas City on June 2, agreed to a two-year deal and immediately boosted the Ravens’ offense, which desperately needed another playmaker. Maclin is expected to arrive at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., on Wednesday.

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco had texted Maclin while he was visiting Buffalo, encouraging the veteran receiver to meet with Baltimore. That diligence paid off.

“Any time you can add a good player, it helps your team out,” Flacco said Tuesday. “We have a lot of guys competing hard right now and putting him in that room will just up that ante a little bit. I’ve run into Jeremy before in South Jersey when he was playing for Philly. He’s a great kid and I think he’s going to like it around here.”

Maclin, a former first-round pick by the Eagles in 2009, caught 44 passes for 536 yards with two touchdowns over 12 games with the Chiefs last season. He fills a huge void for the Ravens, which lost Steve Smith to retirement and Kamar Aiken to free agency in the offseason. Maclin has the potential to emerge as Baltimore’s No. 1 receiver ahead of Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman.

“I’m really excited about adding Jeremy,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a really good football player and an even better person.”

Entering his ninth NFL season, Maclin has posted 474 receptions for 6,395 yards and 46 touchdowns in 102 career games (100 starts). He missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL.

Watson back on the field

Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson was back on the field for the first time since tearing his Achilles during training camp last year. Watson should be a key part of the offense, especially with the loss of Dennis Pitta, who suffered his third devastating hip injury in four years. Pitta was later released with an injury waiver and his career could be over.

In 2015, Watson was one of the league’s top tight ends, catching 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns with New Orleans. He started all 16 games that season and had just one fumble.

Watson had limited participation in drills Tuesday, but it was still an encouraging step for him.

“It leaves you hungry for more,” Watson said. “But the plan was to have a good day and not have any setbacks and get my feet under me.”

The key for Watson is to avoid any more injuries over the next three days. From there, he can set his sights on training camp and having a dominant season. Watson has already shown his commitment to Baltimore, reportedly agreeing to reduce his 2017 salary from $3 million to $1.25 million.

“The toughest thing is going to be that transition,” Watson said. “Once you get out there in training camp, having not played in a year, your body has to get used to football movements.”

Despite signing Jeremy Maclin to a two-year deal, the Ravens have not ruled out adding receiver Eric Decker, who will be released by the Jets. New York had hoped to trade Decker, but his $8.75 million cap hit was simply too much for teams to absorb.

Decker struggled with injuries last season when he was limited to just three games. However, he is a force when healthy, especially inside the red zone. In 2015, Decker had caught 80 passes for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Jets.

“That’s something that remains to be seen,” Harbaugh replied when asked about signing Decker. “But we’re always looking for good players. You always want to add competition. There are a lot of factors that go into that.”

Nonetheless, Decker would be another welcomed addition to the team, especially for quarterback Joe Flacco, who has already lost one of his favorite targets, tight end Dennis Pitta, because of an injury.

“Eric would be a great guy, too, especially losing Dennis and getting a guy who can go inside,” Flacco said Tuesday. “He’s been a great receiver and he’s played with some big quarterbacks. I’m sure he’s been coached up. Listen, I’ve seen what he can do. Anytime you add players like that, it’s going to be good for your team.”

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs practiced Tuesday after sitting out during the recent OTAs. He is the Ravens’ all-time sacks leader, but there are questions surrounding his durability entering his 14th NFL season.

Last year, Suggs led the team with eight sacks, but he turns 35 in October. Baltimore is hopeful Suggs can still make an impact, but improving the pass rush was the main priority this off-season.

Baltimore selected Tyus Bowser of Houston in the second round of this year’s draft and then took Tim Williams from Alabama one round later. Both are high-energy players that showed a tenacity to get to the quarterback in college.

Bowser stood out during Tuesday’s practice with his quickness off the edge. He also intercepted a pass thrown by backup quarterback Ryan Mallett.



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