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Isaiah Likely Is Focused on Becoming a 'Chess Piece' in Ravens Offense

TE Isaiah Likely
TE Isaiah Likely

Armed with two premier tight ends in Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely, the Ravens want to get them on the field more at the same time in 2024.

How they do they do it? Likely wants to make it easier by blurring the lines.

During minicamp, Likely said he's focused on learning all of the receiving positions in Year 2 of Todd Monken's offense.

"It's being a chess piece, being anywhere 'Monk' needs me to be in this offense – whether it's in the slot, in-line, in the backfield, split out wide by myself," Likely said. "The more you know, the more you can stay on the field."

In the eight games after he stepped in for the injured Andrews, Likely caught 25 passes for 372 yards and six touchdowns. What the Ravens would love to figure out is how to get that kind of production even when Andrews is on the field.

Likely's usage over the full course of the season was fairly evenly split between in-line (270 snaps) and in the slot (252 snaps). He had 35 snaps out wide and nine in the backfield. Andrews was used far more in the slot (341 snaps) last season, and saw more snaps out wide (65) than in-line (62).

The Ravens used "12" personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, one running back), 11.1% of the time last year, which ranked 27th in the NFL, per SumerSports. The league-wide average was 19.2%. Asked if he's campaigning Monken for more "12" personnel, Likely laughed.

"They watch film. They see it," he said. "It's an emphasis for them to try to see what we can do on the field together and harp on the little things so we can get on the field together and make the most of it."

Check out who stood out on the practice field during the Ravens' mandatory minicamp.

Likely said he and Andrews often talk about what they can do together in the meeting room when they watch games.

"We talk to the other one and are like, 'Man, that one time we both get to go out there and do this thing together, it's going to be special.' Thats what we preach every day in practice," Likely said.

"If we're out there, we try to pick each other's brains to see what each other sees and try to play off each other. Mark's always going to be Mark. He's going draw attention from the defense. So, making plays on my side of the ball just opens up things for everybody. And when everyone is hitting on all cylinders, it's going to be different."

If last year's torrid finish didn't show that Likely is in store for more in 2024, he's making it clear on the practice field this summer. Likely was one of the standouts of Ravens minicamp, where he leapt high to make jaw-dropping one-handed receptions in back-to-back practices.

Odell Beckham Jr. has long been known for his one-handed catches. With Beckham now in Miami, Likely might be the player Ravens fans see highlight-reel grabs from this season.

"I just try to not think about it and try to go up make a play," Likely said. "Sometimes I try to climb the ladder and try to get it with two [hands], and if I can't, definitely try to get it with one because if I don't, I'm gonna hear about it from [Lamar Jackson] and the coaches if I come down without the ball."

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