Michael Crabtree’s Hands are now part of the narrative

By Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun

Four weeks before he became the scapegoat of the Ravens’ loss Sunday to the Cleveland Browns, Crabtree was the focus of one of the more interesting scenes of the “Ravens Wired” recap of the team’s season-opening blowout of the Buffalo Bills.

In that rain-soaked game, Crabtree dropped a pair of passes from quarterback Joe Flacco in the first half. Sideline cameras and microphones captured the wide receiver’s penitence.

“I got you, fam. My bad,” he told Flacco on the sideline. “Don’t get mad at me, bro.”

“I’m not,” Flacco said. “Don’t worry.”

Amid all the self-glorifying footage from the 47-3 win that could have been featured, the Ravens-produced program included Crabtree’s remorseful remarks because they fit neatly into a dramatic arc: Player struggles. Player apologizes, promises to make amends. Player delivers with highlight-reel play — in Crabtree’s case, a toe-tapping, 12-yard touchdown catch just before the end of the first half.

Even then, he refused to allow himself much joy. “No, listen, I dropped those passes in the beginning,” he told third-string quarterback Robert Griffin III afterward. “I can’t even celebrate no more.”

After Sunday’s game, a 12-9 overtime defeat in Cleveland that, unlike that Bills romp, likely did hinge on Crabtree’s firm grasp of a Flacco pass, the Ravens find themselves in the awkward, impossible position of having to scrutinize what were once considered one of the sport’s surest hands.

It’s hard to say which conversation of the past three years would have once been considered more unlikely: How big, really, are a certain U.S. president’s hands? And how good, really, are Michael Crabtree’s hands? As a refresher, here are a few highlights from the former Texas Tech star’s predraft breakdowns.

NFL.com: “Excellent hands; snatches the ball from the air within or outside his body. Secures the ball quickly in his strong hands after the catch.” WalterFootball.com: “Does not drop easy passes. … Circus catch ability.” Sporting News: “Hands: Are excellent. Caught more than 94 percent of passes thrown his way. Plucks passes that are way off-target.

The Ravens quarterback has played with enough wide receivers in Baltimore to know not to get mad at them. But that doesn’t mean he and the coaches have to keep throwing to them, either.

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