OWINGS MILLS – Has wide receiver Marlon Brown played his last game with the Ravens?
Another disappointing season for Brown has ended. Coach John Harbaugh confirmed Monday that Brown, who has not played since Week 11, would not be in the lineup for the season finale against the Bengals. Brown had just 10 catches for 142 yards and no touchdowns, and has been struggling with a back injury.
“His back is just not responding,” Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference. “He’s had back spasms, then they found a little bit of a disc issue. About two weeks ago I could just tell he wasn’t going to get back, so I kind of gave up hope and I think he did to.
“He’s going to have to take the offseason and get it right. It’s no major, blown-out back or anything like that. We tried different things and it just didn’t respond.”
Why wasn’t Brown placed on injured reserve? That also remained an unanswered question. Brown was kept on the active roster, while young players with potential like running back Raheem Mostart and offensive lineman Kaleb Johnson were waived.
“I’m not sure why (general manager) Ozzie (Newsome) didn’t put him on IR,” Harbaugh said Monday. “It would be a good question for Ozzie, probably just didn’t have a roster move to make would be my guess.”
So where does that leave Brown? Not in the strongest position. Brown hasn’t scored a touchdown since his promising rookie season in 2013 (49 catches, 524 yards, seven touchdowns). The Ravens will have stiff competition at the wide receiver position, regardless of what happens in the draft, and even if Steve Smith retires.
Brown’s size (6-foot-5) figured to make him an effective red zone and third-down receiver, but that has not materialized. Brown will be a restricted free agent after the season, leaving his future with the Ravens uncertain.
“Marlon’s one of my favorite guys,” Harbaugh said. “He works really hard at it, has a great attitude, and to my eyes (is) very talented. But it just hasn’t worked in the last two years like we all expected after his rookie year. It’s going to be a really important offseason for him, and it’s going to be a critical season for him when he comes back.”