The Baltimore Ravens have had their share of outstanding tight ends over the years. Players like Shannon Sharpe, Todd Heap and Dennis Pita were key contributors in some really good teams.
Current tight end Mark Andrews is carrying the torch now. Andrews was named a first-team All Pro and Pro Bowl player last season after posting 107 receptions for 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns.
“I’m hungry. But I don’t really care [about accolades],” Andrews said. “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.”
There’s more to the group than just Andrews. Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta, used draft picks on Charlie Kolar from Iowa State and Isaiah Likely from Coastal Carolina. They’re two different types of tight ends but they add to the group.
“We were pretty flexible with what we could do, but as I look at it, when you inject those kinds of players,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Charlie’s [Kolar] a really big target. Really good catch radius. Good all-around player. Isaiah [Likely] has a little knack. He can do a lot of things unscripted as a receiver, and I think that he’ll continue to develop in the other phases of the offense. They’re definitely chess pieces and we’ll see how it all fits together.”
Nick Boyle is back in the mix as well after dealing with complications from a knee injury last season.
“Last year was tough for me. … Seeing people practice, watching the film, being in the meeting rooms, it was like, ‘I just have to try anything I have to do to get out there,'” Boyle said. “It’s just so hard to sit back and watch when you’ve been a part of something.”
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Boyle wasn’t the same last year but looks like a new guy this season. That should spell good things for the tight end group.
Andrews will lead the room and be the primary pass-catching option. Likely should serve as a match up piece while Boyle will continue to be the best blocking option. Kolar has a unique skill set they will allow him to fill a variety of roles.
New tight ends coach George Godsey embraces the versatility in the tight end group to the point of it almost being a requirement.
“We’re in line, we’re blocking, we’re tasked with some [defensive] linemen,” Godsey said. “So, we’re involved in the physical part of the game. And then when we’re extended or out in space, it’s our job to get open just like a receiver. So, I think that’s what he [head coach John Harbaugh] means there. We’ve got to be versatile as far as our alignments go. We’re in-line, we’re detached, [we’re] in the slot, we’re extended at No. 1.”