OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens faced some criticism for not getting rookie wide receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche more involved in the offense last season.
Both playmakers were highly touted prospects and they shined throughout training camp.
Instead, Duvernay and Proche mostly made an impact on special teams. Look for both of those players to play a bigger role in the passing attack next season.
"The young guys: Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, showed some special teams ability, made some plays here and there," Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta said. "I think their best football is ahead of both of those guys. We’re very happy with both those guys, as young receivers who came into a very difficult situation this year, with no OTAs, and essentially, no real training camp – so to speak – with games.
"We’re excited about both those guys – we really are."
The Ravens ranked last in the NFL for passing attempts (406) and passing yards per game (171.2) last season. Baltimore is focused on improving that passing attack but might be hesitant to spend big money in the free-agent market because of a tighter salary cap.
As a result, the team expects Duvernay and Proche to take the next step in their development and become more vital playmakers.
Duvernay, a third-round pick (92nd overall) in the 2020 draft, was targeted 26 times and caught 20 passes for 201 yards. He has the speed and toughness to make a bigger impact next season. The Ravens also used him on sweeps and Duvernay managed 70 yards on just four carries.
"Every time I get in, I’m just trying to take advantage of my opportunities," Duvernay said. "I’m just trying to keep earning my coaches’ trust day-in and day-out, and just let the rest speak for itself.”
Proche, a sixth-round (201st overall) in the draft, also has the potential to be a game-changer. He caught just one pass for 14 yards after a stellar career at SMU. Proche did an effective job returning punts before being inactive late in the season because of a roster crunch.
Proche will have more opportunities to make plays next season.
“There are a lot of things about James that we like," DeCosta said. "He’s a crafty guy, and he’s good inside. He has excellent hands. I think he’s competitive with the football. He’s a guy that gets upfield quickly with the football in his hands as a punt returner, and that’s an important position.
"It’s hard to find those kinds of guys that have that special skillset. He has a good mentality. He’s been highly productive at the college level, and I think he fits our team very well.”