Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore is trying to put the hype surrounding him back into Pandora's box.
Last year, Gillmore entered the league with the mantra that he was a blocker first, receiver second. This offseason, he's emerged as the Ravens' clear starter and a weapon in the passing game.
On Saturday night, after scoring a bulldozing 33-yard touchdown (even though it was called back), Gillmore did his Texas darndest to play it down.
"I've always said I'm the run guy, I'm the blocker," Gillmore said. "That's what I'm going to stick with. If they throw me the ball, they throw me the ball."
Make no mistake, Gillmore will get a lot of passes thrown his way.
With rookie tight end Maxx Williams sitting out Saturday's game for undisclosed reasons, Gillmore notched two catches against the Redskins before the starters were yanked.
Gillmore was the main target on the first play after the melee that got Steve Smith Sr. and Redskins cornerback Chris Culliver ejected.
The safety let Gillmore run free up the seam, which was a mistake. Gillmore hauled in the pass and shook off one hit to his ribs. A second Redskins defender missed trying to hit Gillmore high. Gillmore then shook off a hit from Washington linebacker Keenan Robinson – the player who started the scuffle by slamming wide receiver Kamar Aiken on his head – and climbed over him before diving into the end zone.
After the game, Gillmore called Robinson a "mosquito."
Gillmore said he was wide-open on the play. That may have been the case when he caught the ball at the 15-yard line, but it certainly wasn't when the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Colorado State product had to bulldoze his way through three Redskins en route to the goal line.
"That just gives you a little bit of an insight as to what he's capable of doing," quarterback Joe Flacco said.
Only problem was Gillmore's touchdown didn't count. The referees threw an offensive pass interference flag on Marlon Brown (although they falsely announced it as Aiken), negating the play. Brown's interference didn't impact the play at all.
"That's my expectation every time I get the ball, to get in that end zone. Sometimes it doesn't work out," Gillmore said, as if he wasn't bothered at all. "It's just part of the game. Penalties happen."
With Dennis Pitta (hip) out for at least the first six weeks of the regular season, Williams on the mend and still growing and fifth-round pick Nick Boyle looking more like a blocker than receiver, Gillmore will get a lot of looks from Flacco and Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman.
Trestman's offense, like former Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's, still highly features the tight ends. And Gillmore has proven this summer that he's ready for a whole lot more than what he saw as a rookie.
"He's a guy that I have had a lot of faith in all the way through, as a blocker and a pass receiver," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "People want to label him a blocker; he's a very good blocker, but he has a chance as a pass receiver, too. And it was nice to see that play."