Just as they needed, the Ravens are getting immediate production from a rookie tight end, but he’s not named Hayden Hurst.
Third-round pick Mark Andrews has logged six catches for 48 yards through two weeks and registered his first NFL touchdown in Thursday night’s loss in Cincinnati.
It’s helped Baltimore overcome the loss of Hurst (foot stress fracture) and still operate its tight-end heavy offense. For Andrews, the two games have been quite welcomed after he didn’t see his first game action in the preseason until the team’s fourth game in Miami due to a hamstring injury.
“Mark had the slow start in training camp because of the physical issues, and man, he’s kind of a gamer,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday.
“He steps up and makes plays, and I think that’s what we thought we had when we drafted him. He’s worked very hard in practice, and to see that show up in the games is good.”
With the Ravens facing a critical third down from the 1-yard line with 16 seconds left in the first half, Andrews made a beauty of a play.
Quarterback Joe Flacco was immediately pressured by defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who came free off the edge. As Flacco faded backward and shrugged off the rush, Andrews ran an inside-out route to shake a Bengals safety. Andrews gave Flacco a nice target on the goal line and caught the pass with his hands as he fell to the turf.
Andrews isn’t quite as athletically explosive as Hurst, but he’s shown throughout his career that he can have high production in the passing game.
Andrews scored 22 touchdowns in his three seasons at Oklahoma. During his senior year, he caught 62 passes for 958 yards and eight scores and won the Mackey Award, which is given to the best college tight end in the nation.
But it’s not his pass-catching that has surprised Harbaugh the most.
“Pass catcher, but, I tell you, a better blocker than probably anybody thought,” Harbaugh said. “In the games, he kind of steps it up, so that’s a very big plus for us.”
Check out all the action from the Thursday Night Football Week 2 game.