Mark Andrews arrived at training camp this summer with a distinct swagger, an unmistakable intention to have a huge year.
That attitude has carried into the regular season. With his second straight 100-yard receiving day (eight catches, 112 yards, one touchdown), Andrews was the most productive target for quarterback Lamar Jackson during Sunday’s 23-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Andrews is the first Raven with consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Mike Wallace in 2016. Wallace was a speedster. Andrews is more like a multi-purpose tank.
The Ravens’ second-year tight end can barrel over defenders or run by them, and he does it with no mercy. Andrews says his take-no-prisoners playing style comes naturally, a transformation that occurs whenever he steps onto the field.
“Outside of football I’m kind of a different person,” Andrews said. “But I love football, the competitiveness of it. It brings out the best in me. There’s nothing better than going out there and winning your one-on-ones, making plays. I live for that.”
While Andrews made catches that showed off his athletic ability, his 27-yard touchdown catch was more about strategy. Worried about the threat of Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown lined up outside, the Cardinals were fooled. Lamar Jackson pump-faked a throw to Brown as Andrews ran down the sideline toward the end zone with nobody covering him. Jackson spotted Andrews wide open and made one of the easier throws he had all day for a touchdown.
“It was a great play call,” Andrews said. “Obviously that’s a schemed-up thing, something that we saw that we could try to exploit. Credit to the coaches for seeing stuff like that. That’s not easy to do, to create plays and just basically walk into the end zone.”
Other plays that Andrews made were even more impressive. Like the way he hurdled a Cardinals defender to pick up a couple extra yards after making a first-down catch.
Or his awareness to recover his own fumble after taking a hard hit on a crossing pattern.
Andrews has instincts that can’t be taught easily, part of the reason he has the potential to become a Pro Bowl tight end. The Ravens saw it last year after he was drafted in the third round, and his career has quickly trended upward.
Andrews often punctuates plays with a fist pump or gesture, putting his competitive nature on display. He is a physical player, willing to bleed every yard out of a play after making a catch. Yet, Andrews runs his routes with delicate precision. It’s an impressive combination.