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News & Notes: Healthier Nick Boyle 'Looks Like a Completely New Guy'

TE Nick Boyle
TE Nick Boyle

An offseason of hard work is paying major dividends for Nick Boyle.

Participating in OTAs is another major step for Boyle, who only played in five games last season and was never 100 percent coming off knee surgery. However, following Wednesday's practice, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman gave Boyle major props for the progress he has made since the 2021 season ended.

"He looks like a completely new guy this year," Roman said. "It's unbelievable what he's done, the hard work he's put in. He's looking really good."

A healthy Boyle would be a huge lift to Roman's tight end-friendly offense. While Boyle has improved as a pass-catcher and had a career-high 43 receptions in 2019, blocking is his bread and butter as a linchpin in Baltimore's potent running attack.

If Boyle returns to blocking opponents as if they were tackling dummies, Baltimore's tight end group could be as good as anyone's. Mark Andrews is a first-team All-Pro coming off a career year, and the Ravens drafted tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely who both have intriguing potential.

"We think Charlie's a really big target with a good catch radius, good all-around player," Roman said. "Isaiah's got a little knack, he can do a lot of things unscripted as a receiver. I think he'll continue to develop in the other phases of the offense. We'll see how it all fits together. It could be pretty interesting."

However, Andrews and Boyle are the veteran leaders of the tight end group, and they spent part of the offseason training together in Arizona. Andrews is one of the team's most intense players, and it was a perfect environment for Boyle to get himself right.

"I saw how hard he worked," Andrews said. "I saw how hungry he was. And if you see him right now, he looks like a different person. He's ready to go."

Jaylon Ferguson Looks Svelte at OTAs

This is an important offseason for outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson and he looks noticeably leaner, entering a contract year in the final season of his rookie deal.

Ferguson has been a solid run defender and had a career-high 30 tackles in 2021, but he has 4.5 career sacks after setting the FBS sack record with 45 at Louisiana Tech.

Last year's sack leader, Tyus Bowser, is coming off an Achilles injury and the timetable for rookie David Ojabo's return from an Achilles injury is also uncertain. Odafe Oweh, Ferguson and Daelin Hayes all have an opportunity to make a bigger impact as pass rushers. Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald is not sure what prompted Ferguson's body change, but likes how he has approached OTAs.

"In terms of impetus, I'm not entirely sure what his decision process is with that," Macdonald said. "Right now, he's doing a great job. He's competing. The techniques that we're teaching are slightly different than he knows, so that's a little bit of a learning curve for him, but once he gets out there full go and rolling, then I expect him to compete."

Macdonald helped Aidan Hutchinson and Ojabo break out at Michigan. Now Macdonald will try to do the same with Ferguson.

Chuck Clark Helps Marcus Williams Get Acclimated

Marcus Williams is a five-year NFL vet, but he's new to the Ravens after signing during free agency. He's in the process of learning a different system, and who better to lean on than Chuck Clark, a veteran safety who is one of Baltimore's most studious players. Clark has given pointers to Williams, who appreciates Clark's willingness to share.

"Chuck is definitely a leader," Williams said. "He comes out here every day ready to work. Every time I'm out there, he's helping me in any way he can. I ask him a lot of questions and he's helping me."

Signing Williams and drafting Kyle Hamilton in the first round gives Macdonald the potential to use plenty of three-safety looks. With 15 career interceptions, Williams is a playmaker who believes Baltimore's secondary could be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

"I think there's a lot of talent," Williams said. "I think everybody here works good together. You guys could see it out here, we can see it. We just have to keep building and stacking days, stacking practices."

Justin Tucker and Jordan Stout Build*ing* Chemistry

Sam Koch's transition from punter to special teams consultant after 16 seasons also means a major change for kicker Justin Tucker. After 10 seasons with Koch as his holder, Tucker is working with Stout, who takes over as the new holder in addition to his role as punter.

Tucker had atypical back-to-back misses during Wednesday's practice. There will be growing pains during the process, but Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton says OTAs provide the perfect setting to work out the kinks.

"This month it's just the finest little details," Horton said. "Those specialists understand that. A ball that's too far in front, too far behind, too far to the left, too far to the right, those things matter."

The most accurate kicker in NFL history, Tucker often talked about the important role that Koch played in that success. Stout is an excellent athlete who impressed the Ravens with his holding during the pre-draft process, and Horton is confident that Tucker and Stout will find their rhythm.

"He doesn't have to be Sam Koch," Horton said. "Sam's 16 years in this league. He's just got to be Jordan Stout – be the player he was that got him here. He'll be just fine."

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