Ravens WR Hit With Questionable Fine

Ravens James Proche

Getty Baltimore Ravens wideout James Proche secures a reception against the Carolina Panthers on August 21.

The NFL slapped the Baltimore RavensJames Proche with a $4,567 fine for unsportsmanlike conduct on Saturday, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, punishing the wideout for celebrating his August 28 touchdown against the Washington Football Team.

The second-year receiver took flight and wrestled a jump ball away from cornerback Darryl Roberts, with Proche’s helmet coming off during the play. Proche immediately got up and hit his defender with a mean mug before his teammates arrived to celebrate with him.

Proche earned rave reviews throughout training camp with several tough contested catches, but failed to translate the hype into either of the Ravens’ first two preseason games. That all changed against Washington, when the SMU product showed off his hand strength and body control to secure a perfectly-placed ball from quarterback Tyler Huntley.

Proche was fined despite not drawing a penalty for the stare down, while fellow Ravens wideout Tylan Wallace was flagged for his touchdown celebration in the same game, but did not receive a fine from the league.

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Proche responded to news of the fine on Twitter, as did teammate DeShon Elliott, who said, “This is so whack.”

Ravens Unproven WRs Look to Step Up

The Ravens placed wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin on short-term injured reserve on September 1, leaving Proche and Wallace alongside Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins and Devin Duvernay as Baltimore’s healthy wideouts.

The IR designations will keep Bateman and Boykin out until at least Week 4, so superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson will need his other targets to step up in their absence.

While Brown and Watkins are the team’s clear-cut starters, Proche, Wallace and Duvernay will all see plenty of rotational reps in the Ravens’ first three games, giving the young wideouts an opportunity to carve out a bigger role for themselves in Baltimore’s offense.

Wallace showed flashes of his potential with a nice catch-and-run against the Carolina Panthers on August 21, followed up by his TD grab against Washington. The Ravens are hoping he can translate a prolific career at Oklahoma State, where he averaged more than 100 yards per game over three seasons, into production at the NFL level. His explosiveness (4.48 second 40 yard dash) and contested-catch ability (43 in his NCAA career) should make him a deep threat for the Ravens this season.

Duvernay may be even faster than Wallace, as he clocked in at a blazing 4.40 seconds for his 40 yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine. The former Longhorn thrived out of the slot in college, where his combination of elusiveness and strength made him a deadly weapon after the catch. The Ravens utilized him on some end-arounds last season, but designing a few screens for Duvernay could unlock more of his potential.

Brown, Watkins Anchor WR Corps

Both Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins returned to practice on September 1, providing the Ravens with some much-needed stability at receiver.

Brown had struggled with his hamstring throughout training camp, sitting out all three of the Ravens’ preseason games. He led the team with 769 receiving yards last year and will continue to be one of Jackson’s favorite targets in 2021.

Watkins, a 2021 free agent signing, is the elder of the Ravens’ WR room, despite being just 28 years old. He quickly established a strong connection with Jackson during OTAs, adding to the team’s belief that Watkins could be a steadying presence for the Ravens’ passing game.

With a combination of established receivers and high-upside youngsters, the Ravens hope they can improve their passing attack to complement their league-leading ground game this season.

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