No ‘rookie wall’ for Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson scrambled out of the pocket and heaved a 17-yard touchdown pass to Zay Flowers to take a late-game lead against the Rams in Week 14.

The Ravens eventually won the game, 37-31, on Tylan Wallace’s 76-yard punt return, but it was Flowers who played a key role in the offense. He had a team-high six receptions for 60 yards with the touchdown.

While there’s talk of players hitting the proverbial “rookie wall” late in the season, Flowers appears to be playing his best football. He has three touchdowns in the last two games and has become a favorite target of Jackson.

“Lamar and Zay come up with that play, and I think that’s just the outcome of a bunch of hard work throughout the course of the season on that particular route, but [they] also scramble, Lamar’s moving, he finds him, [and] Zay makes the play on the run [and] makes the catch,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

The Ravens selected Flowers with the 22nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft from Boston College. He flashed throughout training camp and has become one of the Ravens’ most consistent wide receivers.

“He’s probably just a really great player,” Harbaugh said. “It’s why we drafted him where we did. But it’s almost the middle of the season, he has a challenge in front of him. I don’t think he’s looking back to answer that question. I think he’s looking forward to try to have the best game he can have on Sunday and help us win the game.”  

Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers (4) reacts after catching a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. By Kiyoshi Mio-USA Today Sports

Flowers is not only adept at catching the ball. He is also dynamic with getting extra yards after the reception. That was a criticism of another former Ravens wide receiver drafted in the first round, Marquise Brown, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals last year.

Flowers leads the Ravens in receptions (64) and receiving yards (673).

“Honestly, [my expectation] was just to go out and do my job and get wins, just do my part when the ball comes to me and try to do what I do best, and that’s run after the catch or get open and create separation and go from there,” Flowers said.  

Flowers has developed a strong rapport with Jackson, and he doesn’t give up on his routes because he knows the ball could come his way even when it seems the play is over.

That’s one of the intangibles of playing with Jackson.

“Even in times when it doesn’t seem like you have a chance to win, with [Jackson] on the field, you always have a chance to win,” Flowers said about Jackson. “The game never gets out of hand with him.”  

Harbaugh has been pleased with Flowers’ performance. He embraced the “Ravens Way” of practicing hard every day and carrying good habits into the games.

“You keep working every single practice, as you guys see, on all the little details of everything you do, because no two plays are ever the same with the hope and the intention that when a player gets in a situation, he’s going to be able to make a right choice and good play,” Harbaugh said. “Then all of a sudden, that Advent moment happens. So that’s part of it with Zay, and that’s part of it with all the guys.”

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