(One of a series of articles exploring the status of individual players on the Ravens as the 2012 season approaches.)
The Ravens didnt have a ton of money to spend on acquiring new players this year, so they were careful with their purchases.
Of the handful of new players they added, none cost more than Jacoby Jones, the fleet receiverreturner who previously played for the Houston Texans.
The Ravens gave him a two-year, 7 million deal thinking he could become their primary kickoff and punt returner and also their No. 3 wide receiver two spots where the Ravens struggled in 2011.
Observing him through the spring season of OTAs and minicamps in Owings Mills, the Ravens liked what they saw from Jones as a returner. His burning speed and slashing style could produce some big plays in 2012. Jones reached the end zone four times in five years of running back kicks and punts for the Texans.
But is he ready to be the No. 3 receiver behind starters Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith? That remains to be seen.
Jones has enough issues with dropped balls and general inconsistency in Houston that the Texans let him go and drafted two new receivers as replacements. Although the Ravens in search of more offensive explosion were happy to scoop up a guy who absolutely blasts off the line into his routes, they did see him drop a few balls in the spring. Hmmm.
It goes without saying that they didnt bring in Jones just to return kicks, even though theyre excited to see him in that role. Their receivers other than Smith and Boldin totaled just eight receptions in 2011, and Joe Flacco obviously needs more than two downfield targets to make the passing game more dangerous. They want Jones to be that other target; the guys behind him on the depth chart have done little or nothing as receivers in the NFL.
Last season in Houston, Jones caught 31 passes for 512 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 16.5 yards per reception. Thats not far from the prototype the Ravens want a guy who can stretch fields and catch enough passes to make opposing defenses pay attention to him, possibly opening things up for the teams other receivers.
In 2010, Jones caught 51 passes in Houston, including three for touchdowns.
The Ravens dont necessarily need that much from Jones, but one way or another, they want solid receiving production from their biggest offseason acquisition.