Ravens: 3 pleasant surprises from training camp so far

Ravens. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Ravens. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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James Proche, Ravens
James Proche, Ravens. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

1. James Proche and Deon Cain

The Ravens boast a really, really good wide receiver room this season that includes Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins, Marquise Brown. You’ve heard of them.

But lower down in the depth chart, players like James Proche are making a statement. Proche embodies the universal tenet of NFL training camp: Nothing is guaranteed.

Now, Proche’s odds of winning a starter spot over, say, Sammy Watkins are close to zero. The top three are the top three for a reason. With Brown’s hamstring injury and Bateman’s Week 1 availability in doubt, though, Proche and others may be asked to step up sooner rather than later.

If you were to ask which wide receiver stood out the most in training camp, the answer would be unanimous. James Proche. Not necessarily which receiver was pound-for-pound the best player, but which looked the best in reps.

Throughout camp, Proche has brought his A-game practice after practice running tight routes, dominating defensive backs, and winning matchups against even Marlon Humphrey.

He was considered on the bubble heading into practice, but with his dominant form, he could take the field as early as Baltimore’s first preseason game.

Proche only had one catch for 14 yards last season, so he still needs to prove he can bring the same intensity and consistency in a competitive game setting.

His best-case scenario would be splitting No. 4 receiving reps with Devin Duvernay. If he continues his strong camp showing, and if Bateman misses time after his groin surgery, Proche forces Harbaugh and the other coaches to reconsider the wide receiver depth room.

Fellow roster hopeful Deon Cain has been distinguishing himself this camp, too. Cain was picked by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah as a sleeper to make the Ravens’ roster, and his camp highlights are giving Proche’s a run for his money.

Cain faces a larger hurdle in making up for lost practice time after suffering an undisclosed injury, but he has the fierce underdog mentality to keep him in the receiver contest.

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Together, Proche and Cain are easily the wideout starlets of training camp who have done nearly everything right. The next challenge will be translating their positive reps and production to game time success.