Ravens' Spiderman back in action

OWINGS MILLS -- The fade pass from rookie quarterback Joe Flacco landed inches away from Demetrius Williams' outstretched fingertips in the back of the end zone as the football skidded across the ground incomplete. During the Baltimore Ravens' 10-9 loss last week to the Atlanta Falcons to wrap up the preseason, the wide receiver nicknamed "Spiderman" nearly snared a touchdown in his web

"That's just me and Joe not having worked together much to develop that timing and me being out for a while," Williams said. "In time, we'll get it."

It was a squandered red zone opportunity, but the Ravens are hoping to build a big-play connection between Flacco and Williams heading into the launch of the regular season Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I was just trying to put the ball in the end zone and let him go up," Flacco said. "I probably could have let him go up and get the ball a little bit more. In the future, we're going to put the ball in the end zone."

Activated from the physically unable to perform list last week after missing the first three preseason games with a sore left Achilles' tendon, Williams is hoping to emerge as the deep threat in an offense that has been lacking a consistently explosive receiver.

Williams needs to remain healthy, though, to fulfill his potential.

"It's definitely great to get back out there, but I'm not like my old self, not yet," Williams said. "Another week of practice and I'll be there. It's been a real long month.

"It definitely tested my patience and confidence. In the long run, I think it might have been one of the best things to happen to me because it let me watch things from the outside."

Williams was limited to nine games and four starts last season due to a high-ankle sprain, catching 20 passes for 290 yards to average 14.5 yards per reception. Sixteen of his receptions generated first downs.

Williams is slated to be the third receiver behind starters Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. "We consider ourselves to be very explosive in the receiving corps, and to have Demetrius out there that gives the defense three guys to defend," Clayton said. "Which one are you going to choose?"

As a rookie, the 6-foot-2, 197-pound former fourth-round draft pick caught 22 passes for 396 yards. Williams led the team with 18 yards per catch and caught two touchdowns, including a 77-yard effort against the Cleveland Browns.

"At all times, I want to show I can make plays," Williams said. "I want to be an explosive playmaker."

Williams is regarded as the Ravens' top chance to stretch the secondary besides tight end Todd Heap.

A former Oregon standout, Williams blends size, speed and route-running ability. What he has lacked, though, is the critical element of durability.

"I don't want to miss any games like last year," Williams said.

Although Williams is able to run and cut at a high level, he's still waiting for the tendon to completely recover before he'll proclaim himself to be 100 percent.

"It's more of a flexibility thing than anything else," Williams said. "The speed comes with more flexibility. It will come, it will definitely get better."

Sidelined for training camp as well as offseason minicamps, Williams has been staying after practice to build chemistry with Flacco. They connected over the middle for a 22-yard reception against the Falcons.

"It's definitely not a case of Joe overthrowing me," Williams said. "He definitely has the arm." Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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