On the same day the Ravens acquired former Pro Bowl edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue, discussion about a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver reignited.
Former Dallas Cowboy Dez Bryant was listed as an official tryout on Thursday’s transaction sheet and is likely to join Baltimore’s practice squad, according to NFL Network. The Ravens hosted Bryant for a workout in August, but he left Owings Mills without a contract.
Turning 32 next month, Bryant hasn’t played in an NFL game since the end of the 2017 season and caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns in his final year with the Cowboys. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound wideout posted three straight 1,200-plus-yard receiving seasons from 2012-14, but he dealt with injuries and his numbers declined over his final three seasons in Dallas.
While it’s unclear how much Bryant might be able to offer after such a long layoff and criticism that noted his declining ability to separate even years ago, the Ravens are eyeing a boost for a passing game that’s dipped to 22nd in the NFL at 7.0 yards per passing attempt. Baltimore ranks just 20th in passing efficiency after ranking first in 2019, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
The Ravens also activated nose tackle Brandon Williams from the reserve-COVID-19 list on Thursday. Williams never tested positive for the virus, but it was determined that he came in close contact with an individual who had tested positive, which required him to isolate from the team for five days. Williams was placed on the list last Saturday and missed the Week 6 win over Philadelphia.
As expected, cornerback Anthony Averett was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury sustained in the Eagles game. Head coach John Harbaugh said Averett is expected to miss at least five or six weeks, which made him an obvious option for IR. Under the revised rules for the 2020 season, players may return from IR after missing just three games, down from the previous minimum of eight games.
With Averett becoming the third Baltimore cornerback to go to IR since the summer, the Ravens have become thin at the position and are only one injury away from being forced to lean on rookie Khalil Dorsey or practice-squad member Terrell Bonds, who were both undrafted talents. Despite being undersized, both flashed potential during training camp.
“They’re guys who have a lot of speed [and are] extremely quick,” pass defense coordinator Chris Hewitt said earlier this week. “They are more suited to play inside as a nickel. But they’re young players, and they just need the opportunity to go out there and get the experience. They go out there every week in practice, and they just go out there and go make plays.”