Mark Andrews Playing Great in Camp, Yet Hardly Mentioned
Hiding a 6-foot-5, 250-pound former Pro Bowler sounds rather difficult, but that's what has happened to some degree with tight end Mark Andrews this offseason and training camp.
With stories endlessly discussing the Ravens' wide receiver unit, the spotlight has been off quarterback Lamar Jackson's favorite target.
But while Andrews avoids drawing attention to himself, he hasn't ceased his playmaking in training camp. According to Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich, he’s Andrews has been one of the best players at the Under Armour Performance Center.
"Mark Andrews is quietly going about his business and is one of the team's most dominant players in training camp," Karpovich wrote. "Andrews has caught numerous passes in double coverage and has been a force in red-zone drills."
Jackson certainly hasn't forgotten about Andrews, as the two rediscovered their chemistry in Jackson's first practice back Saturday.
Andrews has caught 186 passes for 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He produced over 25 percent of Jackson's passing yardage and passing touchdown total last season and is regarded as the No. 6 tight end heading into 2021 by PFF’s Ben Linsey.
"He's a big target who can work down the seams, and he has come up big in the red zone," Linsey wrote. "His 12 red-zone touchdowns over the past two seasons are tied with Kelce for the most at the position. Andrews is also one of the few tight ends in the league who has served as his team's primary target in recent years. Andrews (185) and Marquise Brown (160) are the only players on the team with 100-plus targets since 2019."
With new weapons on the outside, however, will Andrews see his target share drop? The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer joined NFL Network's Michael Florio for some fantasy chatter and said he expects Andrews will still be the team's top target.
Andrews has done everything to get prepared for the season, including an impromptu workout session with wide receivers Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and rookie Rashod Bateman in Arizona.
Linebacker Development Will Determine Defenses' Tier
The Ravens enter the 2021 season boasting one of the best defensive units in the NFL. With a catalogue of talent in the secondary and defensive line, the linebackers will be counted on to bring the Ravens' defense to newer heights.
While there is always room to improve, Baltimore already ranks as a “tier one defense,” according to PFF’s Sam Monson.
"Baltimore's defense was already good, and they made some pretty significant moves to reinforce it in the offseason," Monson wrote. "Matthew Judon departs as a free agent, but he has been replaced with Odafe Oweh in the draft and Justin Houston as a late signing."
It's not only on pass rushers Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston to step up, but also the inside linebackers.
"If Patrick Queen can take a step forward in development after his baptism by fire as a rookie, this group could be outstanding," Monson wrote.
Local media agrees with Monson's sentiment, as The Baltimore Sun’s Daniel Oyefusi sees the inside linebacker unit—namely Queen – needing to become more developed in pass coverage this season.
"On a defense that finished top-five in points and yards allowed in 2020 and returns the majority of its starters, Queen's growth will be vital for the unit to sustain — and maybe even improve — last season's standing," Oyefusi wrote. "And Queen's coaches and teammates believe he has not only the athleticism but the right mindset to marry his highlight plays with more consistency from play to play in 2021."
New Linebackers Coach Rob Ryan has helped in getting both Queen and fellow second-year linebacker Malik Harrison settled into their positions. Both Queen and Harrison shared the sentiment of the game slowing down for them in Year 2.
Odafe Oweh Was Outstanding in Week 2
When drafted by the Ravens at No. 31 overall, many took note of Penn State pass rusher Odafe Oweh not notching a sack in 2020. But by Week 2 of the Ravens' training camp, Oweh has won reps against just about every tackle on the Ravens' roster, including starting right tackle Alejandro Villanueva for "sacks."
Upon the return of Jackson on Saturday, Oweh greeted his starting quarterback with a sack, according to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec.
"Oweh easily beat left tackle Tyre Phillips to sack Jackson in one 11-on-11 session," Zrebiec wrote. "The offense obviously didn't want it to happen again, so later in practice, Oweh was triple teamed on one plan. He was blocked by both Villanueva and guard Patrick Mekari and then Dobbins also chipped him."
This isn't the first time Zrebiec has written about Oweh.
"Your daily Odafe Oweh highlight came when he hustled across the field to stop running back J.K. Dobbins who had some room on the right side," Zrebiec wrote. "A few plays later, Oweh got penetration to stop Dobbins behind the line of scrimmage. The former Penn State standout won his share of pass-rushing reps Friday, too. He's undoubtedly been the star of the second week of camp."
The next step for Oweh is to play well in the preseason and Defensive Coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale is confident he's ready.
"This kid, he's going to be a good one," Martindale said. "Don't worry about it; we're going to find ways to get him on the quarterback, because he's going to get there, and he's going to get there really fast. So, I have great hopes for him. I think that he's going to be a great football player for us, and I don't just throw around the word great. I think he's going to be a problem."
- Former Raven Ed Reed made The Athletic's NFL 100 list at No. 39