Mark Andrews Lauded As Star of Training Camp
If there's one player who has stood out for the Ravens throughout the entire preseason, going all the way back to Organized Team Activities three months ago, it's tight end Mark Andrews.
Andrews' performances, as well as his highly competitive demeanor, have earned him high praise from a number of media members, including The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec and ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. The 2018 third-round pick out of Oklahoma was named the Ravens' best offensive player in training camp by Zrebiec, and the training camp MVP by Hensley.
"Mark Andrews probably caught more balls than any other offensive player," Zrebiec wrote. "He regularly got the best of Ravens defenders, not only on short and intermediate routes, but also down the field. He also had no problem reminding his teammates about it, bringing a much-needed swagger to a new-look offense."
Hensley noted the chemistry that Andrews has developed with quarterback Lamar Jackson, which began last season.
Andrews was involved in one of the Ravens' most important and memorable plays of 2018, when he caught a 74-yard touchdown pass from Jackson for the go-ahead score in a crucial victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16.
"As rookies last season, Andrews and quarterback Lamar Jackson made an instant connection," Hensley wrote. "That has carried over into this year's training camp, where Andrews has been Jackson's favorite target, especially in the red zone. And Andrews has been a touchdown monster."
Andrews' touchdown catch on a pass from Jackson during a joint practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars a couple weeks ago was selected by Zrebiec as the best play of Ravens training camp.
"In a red zone sequence in joint practices with the Jaguars, Jackson threw a nice ball to Andrews, who made a leaping catch over linebacker Myles Jack and in front of safety Jarrod Wilson," Zrebiec wrote. "The catch was better than the throw as Andrews made an adjustment with his body and went up high to haul the ball in."
The Jackson-to-Andrews connection struck pay dirt in the red zone again during yesterday's joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles, as Andrews made a leaping catch in the end zone for a touchdown.
After leading all rookie tight ends in receiving yards (552) last year, Andrews has landed on several lists of players who appear primed for a breakout season.
"Mark Andrews is an unbelievable, make-you-believe candidate to be a Pro Bowler right now, to gain 800-1,000 yards and be a badass blocker," NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal said on the “Around the NFL” podcast.
Our Clifton Brown observed Andrews' fiery manner during yesterday's practice.
"Andrews continued to practice with swagger, showing his intention to back up his strong rookie season with an even better year," Brown wrote. "Andrews was taken down hard after making a short catch, but quickly bounced up, gave an Eagles defender a shoulder nudge, then headed downfield and intentionally bumped into another Eagles defender. If you want to play physically against Andrews, he is more than willing to engage."
Marlon Humphrey, Miles Boykin Also Receive Recognition
Here are some of Zrebiec's other "best of training camp" selections:
Best defensive player: "Third-year cornerback Marlon Humphrey was voted the team MVP last season, so expectations for him are high. He exceeded them in camp by consistently blanketing receivers and making a handful of interceptions. What was even more impressive about Humphrey was how hard he competed and how engaged he was even on the sideline. Humphrey's attention to detail has ratcheted up a notch after teammates and coaches challenged him to be more consistent and take his game to the next level."
Best rookie: "Fourth-round running back Justice Hill has come on of late. However, from the first day of training camp to the last, the most impressive Ravens rookie was third-round receiver Miles Boykin. He's been up and down in the two preseason games so far, but in practices, he made a ton of plays, often while matched up with a starting cornerback. He has run well, hauled in contested catches and put himself in position to be a Week 1 starter."
Best development: "All eyes were on Jackson throughout camp, and the second-year quarterback responded by being more consistent with his throwing accuracy and mechanics and by limiting mistakes. Jackson hit a few lulls and mixed in some poor throws. However, he looked like a completely different quarterback than he was even at the mandatory minicamp in June. There is plenty of work still to do, but Ravens officials have to be pleased with his progress."
Best decision: "The Ravens kept kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik on the non-football injury list after he was allegedly assaulted in downtown Baltimore on the eve of last year's roster cutdown. With Justin Tucker and Sam Koch entrenched as the kicker and punter, the Ravens' hope was Vedvik would kick well enough to allow them to trade him for a late-round pick. They did even better than they could have imagined as General Manager Eric DeCosta turned the undrafted kicker into a fifth-round pick from the Minnesota Vikings a couple of days after Vedvik boomed two punts and went 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts in the preseason game against Jacksonville."
John Harbaugh Recalls Funny Doug Pederson Story
With the Ravens and Eagles participating in joint practices this week and meeting in a preseason game in Philadelphia Thursday night, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh told a funny story Saturday at the podium involving Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson.
It occurred during the 1999 season, when Harbaugh was in his second year as the Eagles' special teams coach under Head Coach Andy Reid, and Pederson was the team's backup quarterback. Pederson also served as the holder.
During the Eagles' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, Philadelphia set up for a 26-yard field goal with the final seconds of the first half ticking down and no timeouts remaining.
"We worked on 'bonsai' field goal so many times, in terms of running everybody out during the clock and running and kicking the field goal," Harbaugh said. "So, we're screaming, 'Bonsai! Bonsai!' And I'm looking at the line. I see Doug, and he's back there. The line is set up perfectly. I'm like, 'Yes! We got it, and there's plenty of time left.' Then, I notice, out of my left eye, there's no kicker.
"I look out, and here comes Norm [Johnson], running off the bench, putting his helmet on, strapping up. He ran out, and the ball was snapped, because Doug is smart. He snapped it at one second. And [Johnson] kicked it right on the run."
"Did he make it?" a reporter asked.
"Wide left," Harbaugh replied, eliciting laughter.
Harbaugh added that he beat a hasty retreat to the locker room to avoid Reid after the debacle.
"I ran to the locker room. Andy ran behind me. I outran him, but he caught me in the locker room and wanted to know what happened," Harbaugh recalled. "That's quite a memory. You never forget those things."