Hayden Hurst Steps Up With Mark Andrews Injured

120819-Article-Hayden-Hurst

The Ravens' tight ends trio of Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst are like brothers.

With that said, there has always been a part of Hurst that has yearned to be the big brother.

In his second season, the 2018 first-round pick – selected seven picks ahead of Lamar Jackson – is third on the Ravens' depth chart at tight end. He has far fewer passes thrown his way than Andrews, who was picked two rounds later.

But with Andrews sidelined by a knee injury Sunday in Buffalo, Hurst finally got his time in the spotlight – and he made the most of it.

After a defensive slugfest in the first half left the score at 10-6 at the break, Hurst broke it open at the start of the third quarter with a 61-yard catch and run.

Under intense pressure from a cover-zero blitz, Jackson lofted a perfect pass deep down the field – in the wind – and Hurst tracked it down. Then the South Carolina product showed off his speed, outracing the Bills defenders to the end zone.

It was the biggest play of the first-round pick's young career. What did it mean to him personally?

"It's hard to put into words to be honest," Hurst said. "It's been not exactly what I had in mind for my start. But I focus every single day. [My coaches] believe in me; they know why I was brought here. I just stay patient."

Hurst was known for his speed in college and he showed it off on the play. He got up to 20.5 miles per hour, which will be among the fastest in the league this week.

"I was rolling on that. I had one goal in mind to get into the end zone," Hurst said.

"Hayden is a monster. Super fast. Great hands. Just an all-around tight end," running back Mark Ingram said. "Kind of underrated a little bit because Mark Andrews is so special and an elite tight end in this league. But Hayden made a huge play for us. He's one of the speed leaders out there."

Hurst has been a good soldier the past two seasons as he's waited for his turn to be a featured part of the Ravens' offense. His contributions, both as a blocker and in clutch situations, have been essential.

Last week versus San Francisco, he made a clutch fourth-and-2 grab and hauled in a key pass on the Ravens' game-winning drive. He has earned Jackson's trust.

Still, Hurst entered the game with a 29-yard catch as his career long. He had 23 receptions for 213 yards and one touchdown entering the game. After being sidelined by a foot injury early in his rookie year, he posted 13 catches for 163 yards and one score.

"There was a reason why we got him No. 1 last year," Jackson said. "He's proven it. He's getting back to his old self like he was in college. He's letting loose and playing ball."

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