The Baltimore Ravens had several of their young unheralded wide receivers step up and show out in their preseason-opening victory over the Tennessee Titans on August 11, 2022.
However, one of their best players at the position that was having a strong training camp but didn’t suit up for their first exhibition game — James Proche — won’t be returning to action when the team reports back after a day off, according to head coach John Harbaugh.
“Yeah, he’s got a little soft tissue deal,” Harbaugh told reporters during his postgame press conference. “We’ll see. It’s not going to be too long, a week or two.”
Before his minor injury setback, Proche was consistently making plays against the starting defense, albeit without Marcus Peters, on the practice field. Many fans and pundits were looking forward to seeing him make some of those same plays against an opposing team in live action.
Given how overly cautious the team has been with players dealing with any injury no matter the severity, we might not see the third-year pro until the regular season opener against the New York Jets on September 11, 2022.
Ravens Dealing With Multiple WR Injuries
Unlike preseason Week 1 sensation Shemar Bridges, who shined bright in his NFL debut against mostly backup players, Proche has proven that he can consistently get open and make plays against starting caliber defensive backs when given the opportunity.
He is poised for a breakout season in 2022 but if he can’t practice or play in any preseason game, they might need to add another player or two at the position since he isn’t the only receiver dealing with a short-term injury.
Second-year pro Tylan Wallace left the game against the Titans with a knee injury and could miss some time after being diagnosed with a knee sprain and undrafted free agents Slade Bolden and Bailey Gaither didn’t even dress for the game because they’re currently dealing with injuries of their own.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec is surprised that the Ravens already haven’t signed a veteran and they very well may have to turn to the free agent market to replenish their ranks at wideout to be able to get through practices let alone games.
Veteran Free Agent WR Options for the Ravens
The Ravens could benefit from a veteran presence in their receiver room and adding another player at the position that is proficient at moving the chains and coming up with clutch catches no matter how redundant his skill set might seem to some compared to Proche and Bolden.
The 13-year veteran has been a great No. 2 receiver and key contributor on three different tile contenders in each of the last three years with his most recent being with the Buffalo Bills in 2021 where he recorded 42 receptions on 77 targets for 626 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. He also played in the 2020 Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers after getting traded at the midseason deadline from The Denver Broncos in 2019.
As impressive as Bridges and some of the other unknown commodities at the position looked in the first preseason game, none of them present the same dangerous vertical threat that Fuller brings to the table. The Ravens lost one of the most explosive elements to their offense when they traded Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to the Arizona Cardinals but signing the former first-round pick would come at a fraction of the cost.
It would also mean rolling the dice that he’ll be healthy enough to meet whatever playing time incentives are included on any potential deal. When he’s on the field, Fuller is one of the best deep threats in the league who can take the top off opposing defenses and score from any down and distance.
He only appeared in two games with the Miami Dolphins last year and recorded just 4 receptions for 26 receiving yards but averages 14.7 yards per catch in his career per Pro Football Reference.
The 11-year veteran has been a great complementary target in the passing game throughout his career and is still viewed as one of the better slot receivers in the league. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of the best at throwing over the middle of the field which is where Beasley does his best work so the two would likely have no problem building almost instantaneous chemistry.
Even in a diminished role with the Buffalo Bills last season, Beasley still managed to tie his career high in receptions with 82 for the second year in a row for a respectable 693 receiving yards which would’ve been the third most among Ravens’ skill position players that appeared in at least 16 games.
The sixth-year veteran would be a solid camp body option with the upside to push for one of the final roster spots to be the fifth or sixth receiver to make the cut. According to Pro Football Reference, he has recorded just 11 receptions for 72 receiving yards in just 17 games over the last two years which includes a 2020 season that was cut short by injuries.
Prior to that, he posted back-to-back seasons of 66 receptions and a total of at least 660 receiving yards with a high of 717 yards in 2018.