The 2013 NFL preseason is winding down and the Ravens still have many questions on offense. With Anquan Boldin being traded to the San Francisco 49ers and Dennis Pitta suffering a season-ending injury, many have wondered just how they would compensate their loss.
The obvious truth is that they cannot be replaced. The recent additions of veterans Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley will certainly help but they will need production to come elsewhere if the offense is to be productive.
The Ravens had hoped that third-year wideout Tandon Doss would step up and be a productive receiver. His play in the preseason raises questions as to whether that will happen. Doss has had countless opportunities to seize a prominent role on the offense but he has been outperformed by rookies Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown.
Doss has two receptions for 10 yards and one touchdown after three preseason games. During the last preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, it appeared Doss ran the wrong route, which resulted in an interception.
Mellette, a seventh-round pick, has been impressive during the preseason and earned playing time with the first-team offense. The 6'2", 217-pound Elon product, has four receptions and 70 receiving yards while leading all Raven receivers with two touchdowns. Mellette has shown speed and soft hands during the preseason.
Brown has been one of the biggest surprises this preseason. An undrafted free agent, the Georgia product has shined all preseason, especially during the last preseason game against Carolina, in which he had four catches, 70 receiving yards and one touchdown. He leads all Raven receivers with six receptions.
Another rookie that deserves consideration is tight end Matt Furstenburg. A local product who played his college ball at the University of Maryland, he is tied for third on the club with four receptions and leads all tight ends in receiving yards with 54.
Furstenburg has proven to have reliable hands and runs routes well (as made evident by the seam route he ran against Tampa). Ed Dickson and Clark are not in danger of losing their roster spots. But could Furstenburg unseat veteran Bill Bajema?
It could come down to what the Ravens value more—Furstenburg's receiving ability and potential or Bajema's blocking and veteran presence.
Considering Pitta and Dickson's injuries and Clark's age, a young tight end for the future could be an attractive option. Furstenburg seems to have a lot of potential and could help the Ravens this season. If they cut him, there is a risk of losing him to another team.
The Ravens need playmakers and it could be in their best interest to give some "young guns" an opportunity instead of players who have not produced or players who do not have much time left.