OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP)The Baltimore Ravens plan to be more creative in how they use their tight ends this season to get them more involved in the passing attack.
The Ravens will need more production from them.
Baltimore lost a 1,000-yard wide receiver when it traded Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals during this year’s draft. And currently, the Ravens’ roster features several young, unproven wideouts.
”We expect a lot of production from those guys,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of his tight ends. ”There’s a lot of depth. It’s going to be interesting. They will function as receivers in one sense or another a lot of times too. They’re good receiving tight ends. They’re blocking. They look good so far.”
The Ravens tight ends group is led by Mark Andrews, who has established himself as one of the best in the NFL.
Last season, Andrews led all NFL tight ends with 1,361 yards receiving. He was tied for the fifth-most receptions with 107 receptions, earning his second career Pro Bowl nod.
Andrews looked slimmer and quicker in the recent voluntary workouts and he’s ready to build on last season’s success.
”I work hard,” Andrews said. ”My family and I, we work out all the time. We catch balls, all that good stuff. So, I’m hungry. But I don’t really care (about accolades). Obviously, it was an honor to have a great season. But that’s not the end goal. The end goal is to, hopefully, (become) a Super Bowl champion and have a ring. That’s why I’m here right now, that’s why we’re working hard.
”We have a special team. And obviously, last year wasn’t the year we wanted, and we had a lot of things that kind of played into that. So, once we get guys back healthy, and we’re working together, it’s going to be awesome.”
Fellow tight end Nick Boyle also is poised to bounce back from two injury-plagued seasons
Through nine games in 2020, before being placed on IR with a knee injury against the Patriots, Boyle tied a career-high with two touchdown receptions, while posting 113 yards on 14 catches.
The leg continued to hamper him last year and he appeared in just five games (three starts). Boyle didn’t make his season debut in Week 11 and finished the year with one reception for 2 yards.
Boyle was able to participate in the recent OTAs. His leg has not bothered him and he’s ready to resume his role as one of the league’s best blocking tight ends.
”He does look like a new guy,” Harbaugh said about Boyle. ”He’s way leaner. He’s moving really well. Last year he just wasn’t the same guy. That injury was a bad injury. We certainly all hoped he would come back last year and be ready to go. He just couldn’t do it. Now, it’s all clicked. He looks like Nick, but he looks a little faster and a little quicker than he did before.”
The Ravens also selected a pair of tight ends in the fourth round of this year’s draft – Charlie Kolar from Iowa State and Isaiah Likely from Coastal Carolina. Both players are expected to make a first-year impact and Harbaugh said it’s reasonable for the team to carry four tight ends.
”Those guys are awesome,” Boyle said about the rookies. ”They fit in really well. And on top of that, when you see them out here running plays and catching balls and stuff, they’re really good. The more competition brings out the better in everybody. They’re just going to help our team.”
The tight end will also have to be reacquainted with quarterback Lamar Jackson, who skipped all of the voluntary workouts. Jackson also missed the last four games last season because of ankle problems and Baltimore dropped six in a row to finish 8-9.
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