Ravens WR Putting on a Show in Camp

Ravens James Proche

Getty James Proche catches a pass in training camp on July 28.

Baltimore Ravens wideout James Proche has been showing out in training camp, making a strong case for his inclusion on the final 53-man roster.

The Ravens receiver room suddenly got crowded this offseason with the addition of veteran Sammy Watkins and rookies Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace. Bateman in particular has impressed coaches and teammates in practice.

The Ravens are widely expected to keep six wide receivers on their final roster this year, as they did last season. With the first five spots likely taken by Watkins, Bateman, Wallace, Devin Duvernay and Marquise Brown, Proche will be competing with Miles Boykin to make the team.

Can Proche Make the Cut?

Proche only played 25 snaps last season, despite being available for 14 games. His low usage suggests that he was not fully incorporated into the offensive game plan. With so few opportunities last season, he will have to prove himself in the preseason to justify a roster spot.

Early reviews out of training camp have been very positive about the second-year receiver. Proche impressed at Saturday’s practice at M&T Bank Stadium, catching everything thrown his way and logging a few touchdowns as well.

Proche continued a strong week with a tough one-handed touchdown catch with cornerback Khalil Dorsey draped all over him. The Ravens posted video of the highlight play on Twitter, in which Proche shows off his body control and hand strength at the catch point.

Proche’s work ethic could be a deciding factor in his inclusion on the roster. The SMU product was consistently the first player on the field for warm-ups last year, per Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com. He’s continued that trend this year, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, who snapped a photo of Proche and Bateman on the field before the rest of the team at Saturday’s stadium practice.

His dedication has not gone unnoticed by teammates and coaches. Sarah Ellison reported that offensive coordinator Greg Roman said of Proche, “He got here before anyone else [this offseason]. He’s been working, working, working, working. He wants the ball. He’s got that attitude that he wants to make an impact and it shows with his play. … So far, he’s really made a statement.”

Quarterback Trace McSorley called Proche “an absolute workhorse,” per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun. So far, it appears the hard work has been paying off; Proche had another strong showing today, catching a touchdown in seven-on-seven practice, as reported by The Baltimore Sun’s Daniel Oyefusi.

Boykin Struggles Early in Camp

Third-year receiver Miles Boykin is Proche’s top competition for the last wideout spot on Baltimore’s final roster, but he’s had a slow start to training camp.

The Notre Dame product injured his hamstring on Monday after a few drops in practice, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, who also noted Boykin’s struggles in June’s OTAs.

Boykin’s still has significant upside due to his lethal combination of size and athleticism. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Combine but has failed to translate his physical gifts into on-field production.

The Ravens’ run-heavy offense has afforded him plenty of opportunities, as Boykin logged a 77.9 run block grade from Pro Football Focus last season, good for ninth among all wide receivers. His blocking ability may be his saving grace on a Ravens team that runs the ball more than any other team in the NFL.

But Baltimore passed for the fewest yards in the NFL last year, and the team has openly expressed their desire to improve their air attack. When making final roster decisions, coaches and front office staff will have to consider if Proche or Boykin gives them the best opportunity to win through the air.

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